Many of the issues raised in the ninth annual Closing the Gap report released this week will be considered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at the 14th National Rural Health Conference in Cairns from April 26 to 29.
“The Prime Minister specifically spoke of the need for better engagement and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities if real progress is to be achieved,” said David Butt, CEO of the Conference organising body, the National Rural Health Alliance.
“Our Conference program features presentations highly relevant to the report, with a number to be delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and leaders, including Janine Mohamed, CEO of Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives; Mark Wenitong, Apunipima; and Marcia Langton, Chair, Australian Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne.
“Gracelyn Smallwood from James Cook and Central Queensland Universities will also give a Keynote address on the importance of integrating different world views of health and wellbeing, while Emily Fitzpatrick will discuss methodologies for conducting research with remote Aboriginal communities."
Mike Stephens, from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation - one of the NRHA's member bodies - will talk about economic strategies that work in the provision of Indigenous healthcare programs.
“Given the focus in the recent Closing the Gap report on the need for localised community-driven work, these and other presentations to be given at the Conference in Cairns are timely and valuable,” said David.
“The Conference will also provide for direct engagement and immediate input from more than 1,000 delegates, resulting in recommendations delivered to the Health Minister at the conclusion of the event.
“At the 13th Conference in 2015, the top delegate-led recommendation was an urgent call to the Commonwealth Government to announce and fund an implementation plan for the National Aboriginal Health Strategy. Pleasingly, this has been implemented, demonstrating the importance of the consultative and collaborative process the Conference facilitates.”
Graham Bidstrup, CEO of Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! is also presenting at the Conference about The Country Kitchens Program that creates capacity through partnerships to improve nutrition.
"Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! notes the disappointing results with regard to Aboriginal health and childhood morbidity in the recent closing the gap report and urges Federal, State and Territory and Governments to adopt and fund long term preventative health initiatives like our Thumbs Up! program to build a stronger, healthier population that will be able to contribute to the growth and success of Indigenous communities in regional and remote areas," said Graham Bidstrup.
Registrations for the 14th National Rural Health Conference are still open and the full program and details on how to register can be found at http://ruralhealth.org.au/14nrhc