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Smoking ceremony conducted by Wurunjeri Elder Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy at the Lowitja Institute CRC launch in October 2014, part of Closing the Gap

Closing the gap

Romlie Mokak, CEO of the Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, is a man with a vision.

“We’ve got a clear agenda for the future and it’s for just 15 years ahead: 2030. This agenda has been agreed upon by governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership as part of the ‘Close the Gap’ campaign,” said Mokak.

The aim is to eliminate the difference in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030. It’s a big ambition that will take a lot of work.

“It’s essential that solutions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing come from the people themselves,” he said. A vital step is explicit recognition of Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution, supported by the Recognise Health coalition launched by the Lowitja Institute in March 2015.

“If we hit the target, then by 2040 we will have had 10 years with no gap. We will have a high quality, accessible health system that is culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Since 1997, the Lowitja Institute and its predecessor CRCs have led a substantial reform agenda in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research by working with communities, researchers and policymakers. In partnership with 21 participants, the CRC is poised to make a substantial contribution to the goals for 2030 and towards a 2040 that sees Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and leadership in all walks of Australian life.

— Clare Pain

lowitja.org.au

Feature image: Smoking ceremony conducted by Wurunjeri Elder Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy at the Lowitja Institute CRC launch in October 2014.