Sonder brought Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities together with five Closing the Gap events this year across South Australia.
In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments finalised a $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous health outcomes to fund a broad package of initiatives addressing the target of closing the life expectancy gap within a generation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live up to 10-17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians. The health gap exists largely as a result of decades of government inaction and a continuing lack of appropriate medical services. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders do not benefit from mainstream health services to the same extent as other Australians because health services are not accessible to many remote Aboriginal communities. Additionally, mainstream health services often lack cultural sensitivity and remain unwelcoming places for Indigenous peoples.
Under the ‘Closing the Gap- Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care’ Program, Sonder is funded by the Adelaide Primary Health Network-an Australian Government initiative, to work towards improving access to culturally sensitive and appropriate primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in metropolitan Adelaide and Yorke & Mid North South Australia.
This year, for the first time, Sonder held five Closing the Gap community events across South Australia. The first three metropolitan events were held at Carisbrooke Reserve in Salisbury Park on Thursday 16th March, followed by Neporendi Community Centre in Old Reynella on Friday 17th March and Tauondi College in Port Adelaide on Thursday 23rd March. The final two Closing the Gap events will be held in country South Australia in Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula on Thursday 30th March and lastly, Port Pirie on Friday 31st March.
The events were widely supported by the community, with metropolitan events attracting in excess of 300 participants at each event. Attendees included clients from Sonder’s Closing the Gap Program, families, friends and local school children. A great number of healthcare and community service providers came out to show their support by hosting a range of information stalls.
Sonder was greatly honoured to welcome to the Salisbury Park event, His Excellency, the Honourable Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia. His Excellency addressed the guests and officially launched the event. Also in attendance at the Carisbrooke Park event was Deputy Mayor for the City of Salisbury, Donna Proleta who expressed the support of the council for the Closing the Gap event.
The Tauondi College event was attended by the Honourable Kyam Maher, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation as well as the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor, Gary Johanson.
Each event was kicked-off with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country led by Kaurna elder, Uncle Freddie at Salisbury Park and Tauondi College and Allan Sumner in Old Reynella event. At the events, attendees enjoyed free entertainment by singer Dianne Gould and MC Garry Goldsmith and a delicious lunch.
The events were not short of exciting activities for all including; lucky draws, face painting, henna, smoothie-making, fresh popcorn, a pop-up café hosted by the Aboriginal Community Connect team from Uniting Communities and the Mobile Allied Health Clinic Bus from the University of South Australia. Other stall holders included Cancer Council SA, Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Service, Diabetes SA, SA Dental Service, Australian Electoral Commission, Carers Australia SA, Drug Arm Australia, Reconciliation SA, Nunkuwarrin Yunti, Aboriginal Community Care SA, Relationships Australia, AnglicareSA- Communities for children and HIPPY, Partners in Recovery and Trinity Medical Centre Pharmacy.
“Sonder is proud of its association with the Closing the Gap program and we see the CTG Day events as a vital step to increase awareness of the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and this celebration is one way to bring the community together to have fun and talk about what needs to be done to make people well," said Sageran Naidoo, CEO
Sonder would like to thank everyone who attended the events across South Australia for their passionate support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the Closing the Gap initiative. Sonder would also like to thank the Adelaide PHN and Country SA PHN respectfully, for their sponsorship of the Closing the Gap events and the Closing the Gap program across metropolitan Adelaide, Yorke and Mid North South Australia.
To view photos from the events, head to our facebook page www.facebook.com/northernhealthnetwork