National Close the Gap Day in Australia
National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) is an annual awareness event that aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between the indigenous and the non-indigenous communities in Australia.
NCTGD is usually held on the third Thursday in March. It was first observed in 2007 as a joint venture between Australia's top public and health organizations. Olympic sprinter Cathy Freeman and swimmer Ian Thorpe launched the campaign from the Olympic Stadium in Sydney.
Unequal Health Outcomes
The campaign was a response to the poor health outcomes among indigenous groups in Australia. Studies have shown that the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is 10-17 years lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians.
The main aim of National Close the Gap Day is to make people from both indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds aware of this problem and work towards finding ways to solve it.
A Human Rights Issue
High life expectancy is not just a health issue, but it is also a human rights issue. Poverty, education, and employment levels all have a long-lasting impact on the health of a community. The Close the Gap campaign recognizes this and emphasizes that closing the gap in early childhood development, schooling, housing, and employment is the key to also closing the health gap.
What Happens on National Close the Gap Day
National Close the Gap Day is not an official holiday, so businesses, schools, and government offices are open. Community health groups, educators, medical professionals, and policy-makers organize outreach drives, conferences, and workshops to bring attention to the problem of low life expectancy among indigenous groups.
NAIDOC Week 2018
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. Visit the NAIDOC week website for more information here.