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The ANMF has affirmed its commitment to working towards and eliminating unfair disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

The 2019 theme for Close The Gap Day is Our Health, Our Voice, Our Choice.

“This day is a time for all Australians to come together and commit to achieving health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

However, Australia should be striving for health equity rather than equality for Indigenous peoples, she added.

“With equality everyone starts from the same base, which seems fair, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face different obstacles in what they need to achieve.

“Equity recognises those barriers and gives required assistance so that everyone can achieve to the same level. This is a very significant difference to those who face inequities, such as access to healthcare.

“To achieve equity you must listen to the voices of the people – listen to their perspective on their health issues and priorities, listen to how they can participate and drive change, and enable access to a range of services culturally appropriate to their needs, so that they have genuine choices for their healthcare.”

Ms Butler said nurses and midwives recognise their responsibilities in improving health status and health determinants (education, housing, employment) of all people.

“We know the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is considerably poorer than any other social group in Australia. Indigenous Australians can expect to live at least 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians and we know we need to help change that.”

The Australian government must listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and commit to revisiting the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Ms Butler said.

“In this federal election year, we are calling on all political leaders to act to ensure the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are heard and that their healthcare choices are respected.”

More information on Close the Gap Day