Close the Gap 2019
We spoke to our Cultural Architect, Josey (Djidi-Djidi) Hansen about her thoughts on Closing the Gap in 2019.
” On Close the Gap Day 2019, I am excited to see that new targets have been included in the Close the Gap Refresh. At UnitingCare West our core business is about closing gaps, not just for First Peoples but for all people experiencing vulnerability. We do notice though that, as it says in the Uluru Statement from the Heart; Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
When organising our Close the Gap (CTG) day event last year, we had looked at the CTG targets and noted that justice was not one of the targets, yet is a system within our community which has a hugely disproportionate representation of First People. One of our guest speakers at the event was Mervyn Eades, founder and CEO of Ngalla Maya. Mervin shared his lived experience in the justice system, starting at just 14 years of age in the juvenile justice system and then moving on to the adult system. He also shared the impact this has had on their lives and their families.
I am excited to see the Community Priorities in the Closing the Gap Refresh include Culture and Language, Healing and Eliminating Racism and Systemic Discrimination.
It hurts my heart that of the seven targets, only two are on track to being met. The target to halve the gap in child mortality rates by 2018 is not on track. The target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 is not on track. The target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment or equivalent by 2020 is on track. The target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy by 2018 is not on track. The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track.
The Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet say: Real change will come through community-led, place-based solutions that engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue their own visions of what makes for a good life, to be healthy, prosperous, and secure.
This is true, has always been true and we have always said, ‘Nothing about us without us.’
There is an echo that comes through from our ancestors past and present… listen, open your heart, open your eyes, open your ears.
As a proud Noongar woman I again refer to the Uluru Statement from the Heart: We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
21 March 2019