Graphic: Close the Gap Day 2023
National Close the Gap Day is a day of action for Indigenous health equality that aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
As a leading health service in Australia, we are committed to ensuring our services contribute to the “Close the Gap” targets to improve both health outcomes and access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The RFDS Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is the strategic framework that drives strong relationships, respect and opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is our roadmap to embed reconciliation to become ‘business as usual’ in all areas of our organisation.
Through our Reconciliation journey, we strive for a culture of unity, equity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
Our vision for reconciliation is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have access to culturally safe health services and to experience better health outcomes as a result.
This will be achieved by working in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities and ensuring all our staff embark on a journey of cultural learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories. We are committed to creating a culturally safe workplace that fosters a deep understanding of the ongoing impact of dispossession, colonisation and genocide. Learn more about our Reconciliation Journey here.
Earlier this year the RFDS released their new ‘Best for the Bush’ report which exposed the poorer health outcomes experienced by those living in rural and remote Australia.
Having provided essential health services, including emergency aeromedical retrievals and primary healthcare services, to rural and remote communities since 1928, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is acutely aware of the health challenges impacting these communities and is committed to being part of the solution to overcome them.
We know that there is further disparity in health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in rural and remote areas, who are also impacted by the social determinants of Indigenous health.
This includes the ongoing impacts of; colonisation; loss of language and connection to the land; environmental deprivation; spiritual; emotional and mental disconnectedness; a lack of cultural respect; lack of opportunities for self-determination; poor educational attainment; reduced opportunities for employment; poor housing; negative interactions with government systems; and systemic discrimination and intergenerational trauma, including through the Stolen Generations.
When we looked at the leading reasons for RFDS aeromedical retrievals in 2021 and 2022 we saw that for Indigenous patients the top two reasons for an aeromedical retrieval were reversed when compared to the total population, with Indigenous patients most likely to be retrieved for accidents and injuries and consequences of external causes.
Risks contributing to injuries in remote and very remote Australia include environmental factors, injury health literacy, lifestyle factors, age, socio-economic status, supervision of children, individual behaviours, historical factors, and community cohesion.
These risks can all be reduced through preventative actions and interventions and doing so will save lives.