Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAIDOC Week, which traditional runs from 5-12 July, has been postponed. Regardless, The National Rural Health Alliance has acknowledged the original dates as an opportunity to reflect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Dr Gabrille O’Kane, CEO of The National Rural Health Alliance, the peak body for rural health in Australian, said the Alliance supports the decision to postpone NAIDOC Week but aims to use this time to “reflect on not just the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, but also the significant work still to be done to reduce racism, improve health outcomes an create a health care system that is culturally safe for all.
“The recent new Closing the Gap targets highlight just how difficult this job is, but we mustn’t give up. This includes improving access to health care in remote areas, where many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live, but also a real commitment to addressing the social determinants of health,” said Dr O’Kane.
Acknowledging the impact structural racism and racial prejudice has on the health of Indigenous Australians, The Alliance has repeated its call for a serious commitment by National Cabinet to address racism as a way to improving health outcomes.
“During the original NAIDOC Week dates, we also want to highlight the need to improve the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals,” said Dr O’Kane. “This is an important part of creating a culturally safe health system that provides appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
NAIDOC Week will alternatively be held from 8-15 November 2020.