Closing the Gap begins with you

 

As the very first Indigenous president of the APA, I feel very honored, privileged and humbled to reflect on National Close the Gap Day (18 March).

Over recent years, I have started to see a positive journey by many of us that acknowledges the contribution of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to this country.

This is highlighted by having our national anthem amended by the federal government to state we are ‘one and free’.

The journey of reconciliation and acknowledgement of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is becoming part of our everyday life.

Physiotherapists are venturing out in our local communities to learn more about our First Peoples’ heritage, land, stories from the past and inequalities in health, social justice, nutrition and education.

It is when we learn about the local communities in which we live, work and play that we begin to open our eyes as to how we can assist to right these inequalities.

Learning builds a genuine connection to the land, the people, the culture and the heritage of our local communities.

It will help start the conversation locally and generate demand for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, business development, sustainability and education.

Nationally, we are seeing the changing dialogue from the federal government and industry—the appointment of Ken Wyatt as the first minister for Indigenous Australians overseeing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, having Australia Post recognise the First Nations’ heritage and locations, and many business and sporting organisations performing acknowledgement of country.

And for the first time, the federal government has developed a national agreement in genuine partnership with the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations to work towards achieving equality in health and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Within our own profession we are seeing our regulatory body, Ahpra, soon to mandate compulsory cultural safety training.

This will be member-centered, culturally sensitive, demonstrate an awareness of where the gaps in healthcare and social justice are, and detail why we need to continue our own journey to Close the Gap.

I urge everyone in this time of limited travel, uncertainty and change to seek a connection to land, people, culture and heritage.

Spend some time in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art gallery or restaurant, or enjoy a cultural walk or experience.

It’s taking small steps like these that leave us with a greater appreciation for our First Nations peoples and of what makes our country a truly special place to live and work.

 

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