beyondblue today supports the calls of the Close the Gap campaign – for all political parties to commit to closing the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the Close the Gap Campaign and while there have been encouraging improvements, beyondblue echoes the campaign’s calls for concerted efforts from all sides of Government to close the gap.
Health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is unacceptable and efforts to close this gap should be a priority for Australia.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests Indigenous Australians are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians.
“It is unacceptable that Indigenous Australians are nearly three times more likely to be psychologically distressed than non-Indigenous Australians,” Ms Harman said.
“The health inequality gap clearly exists in mental as well as physical health and we need to address this if we are to reduce the alarming suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The Close the Gap Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2016 report released today also highlighted racism and institutional racism in services, which can act as a barrier to accessing health services.
“beyondblue conducted research in this area to inform our Stop.Think.Respect. Invisible Discriminator campaign which showed how prevalent racism was in everyday settings and the psychological damage this can cause.”
A TNS survey of more than 1,000 non-Indigenous Australians in 2014 showed nearly half (42%) believed Indigenous Australians are given unfair advantages by government, more than a third (37%) believed Indigenous Australians are sometimes a bit lazy and almost one third (31%) believed Indigenous Australians should behave more like ‘other Australians’.
The survey also found many Australians think it’s acceptable to discriminate, with one in five admitting they would move away if an Indigenous Australian sat nearby and one in 10 saying they would tell a joke in the pub about an Indigenous Australian.
“Unfortunately, many people don’t realise when they are discriminating against Indigenous people and therefore, don’t understand the damaging effect it has on their social and emotional wellbeing,” she said.
Finding our way back, a beyondblue booklet proudly funded by donations from the Movember Foundation, is a practical resource designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with advice from people who’ve attempted suicide and their families. The booklet contains suggestions for family members and friends on what they can do to support someone in recover and can be ordered online or downloaded at: www.beyondblue.org.au/thewayback
Mental health professionals are available at the beyondblue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM-12AM ADST) or email responses (within 24 hours).
To sign the pledge to Close The Gap, visit: http://bb.org.au/oxfamclosethegap