The Australian Medical Association is urging other medical and health organisations to also endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart to enable healing and underpin efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health.
The AMA’s Federal Council last month endorsed the Uluru Statement and plans to lodge a formal submission of support to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
AMA President Dr Tony Bartone writes below about how support for the Uluru Statement was “a simple clear-cut decision”, because it “contains the building blocks necessary to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes.”
The Joint Select Committee is scheduled to deliver its interim report to Parliament by 30 July but has extended its earlier deadline for submissions. Health groups and others interested in lodging a submission can follow the instructions here.
Dr Tony Bartone writes:
It was not a hard thing for the AMA to do. It was the right thing to do. It was a simple clear-cut decision.
We are pleased that one of the first groups to follow us in endorsing the Uluru Statement from the Heart was the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA).
AMSA represents the future of the medical profession in this country. Indigenous health and wellbeing advocacy is in good hands.
The AMA has always been a champion for Indigenous health. Our Indigenous Health Taskforce has been a strong supporter of Close the Gap and other initiatives for decades. It was the Taskforce that provided the impetus for the Federal Council to endorse the Uluru Statement.
Our Indigenous Health Report Cards have been shining a light on the health inequities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people since 2002.
We have highlighted key health issues such as inadequate funding, low birth weight babies, Indigenous medical workforce, incarceration rates, access to primary care, medical racism, rheumatic heart disease, and otitis media.
Along with the focus on physical health, the AMA has for many years supported Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution. The Uluru Statement is another significant step in making that recognition a reality.
The Uluru Statement expresses the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people regarding self-determination and status in their own country.
These aspirations are linked to physical and mental health and wellbeing. They are also about social equity and human rights … and respect.
The AMA is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
And we support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination, and Indigenous health in Indigenous hands.
Closing the gap in health services and outcomes requires a multi-faceted approach.
The Uluru Statement form the Heart contains the building blocks necessary to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes.
Currently, only three of seven targets in the Government’s Close the Gap program to improve Indigenous welfare are on track to be met. As a nation, we must do better.
Cooperation and unity of purpose from all Australian governments is needed if we are to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements.
This will involve addressing the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.
We acknowledge that Recognition is a social determinant of health.
The ongoing process of healing needed to Close the Gap can only begin with the appropriate recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Nations people, including leadership in decision-making roles and proper engagement.
Constitutional recognition can underpin all these endeavours, as we work to improve the physical and mental health of Indigenous Australians.
The AMA hopes that other medical and health organisations join us in endorsing the Uluru Statement to help give the movement much-needed and deserved momentum.