Crowds of locals from all over the North West celebrated the ninth National Close the Gap Day at Mount Isa Civic Centre on Thursday.
Health services joined to recommit to targets set by the federal government to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes including life expectancy.
Currently Indigenous Australians can expect to live up to 10–17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians.
Colourful stalls promoted healthy living and the many public services on offer.
Gidgee Healing Aboriginal Health Practitioner Karen West opened proceedings with Welcome to Country.
In her later speech she echoed the Prime Minister’s statement that hope is the basis for driving successful outcomes.
“If you only see my people as poor health statistics, then you can see why we are missing the goodness, and intelligence of my people,” Ms West said.
Mayor Joyce McCulloch said closing the gap needs to be a joint effort between Indigenous and other Australians.
NWHHS Chief Executive Lisa Davies-Jones talked about gradual progress towards better health outcomes in the North West.
“Although we are far from meeting our targets we can acknowledge that progress has been made, especially in the areas of health and mortality,” Ms Davies-Jones said.
Standing in for NWHHS Board Chair Paul Woodhouse was Rowena McNally who introduced Queensland Health’s 2017 Commitment to Reconciliation.
“This statement reinforces the commitment by the Department of Health, the Queensland Ambulance Service, and all Hospital and Health Services to reconciliation and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Ms McNally said.
NWRH Chair Phil Barwick thanked the other health services for their joint work in improving health outcomes.
Other groups present included Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Headspace, MOB FM, YPA, Save the Children.
Members of the public enjoyed fresh fruit, sandwiches, free water, demonstrations and face painting, and a “smoothie bike” which blended while you cycled.