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The Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee (the Campaign) today congratulated the Federal Government on its agreement to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples on a national plan to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy.
However, the Campaign also warned that inadequate data collection on Indigenous health still needs to be urgently addressed.
The Campaign's statements were timed to coincide with the release today of both the Prime Minister's annual Closing the gap report card and the Campaign's own 'shadow report' on the Government's progress towards meeting its targets.
Campaign co-chair Jody Broun, also the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, said the past year had seen some significant achievements and that there was cause for cautious optimism but not complacency.
She said the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee would monitor progress of the Australian Government's Closing the gap programs throughout 2012, paying particular attention to the partnership underpinning the health equality planning process.
'The approach to this partnership must enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives to drive the planning effort and participate in all significant decision-making,' Ms Broun said.
She also said the Government must urgently improve its ability to measure the Indigenous life expectancy gap at more regular intervals than is currently possible, in order to get an accurate picture of its progress in meeting the Closing the gap targets.
Currently, the methodology for calculating Indigenous life expectancy relies on the Census for verification.
'It's absolutely vital that Australian governments are able to provide Indigenous life expectancy estimates at time intervals shorter than five or more years, otherwise how are we to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of health programs to close the gap?' Ms Broun said.
Source: Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee