Thursday 21 March is National Close the Gap Day.
This annual event aims to increase awareness of the gaps in health and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia.
In 2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are dying 10 to 17 years younger on average than other Australians. To put that into some perspective, an 8-year-old non-Indigenous child who started primary school this year may outlive an 18-year-old Indigenous high school student who is currently enrolled in Year 12.
Today, hundreds of thousands of students and teachers in schools right across Australia are holding National Close the Gap Day activities to build understanding of this dire situation. Many of these schools also take part each year in the Great Book Swap, and we acknowledge their ongoing support for our Foundation, and the efforts they make in raising awareness of the low levels of reading and writing among many children living in remote Indigenous communities.
We are dedicated to addressing disadvantage by closing the gaps in learning and educational opportunity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Our programs aim at boosting literacy levels among kids living in some of the most isolated places in Australia, be they babies and toddlers in a playgroup, or students navigating a school curriculum – either bi-lingual or in English – for the first time.
ILF wholeheartedly supports the objectives of National Close the Gap Day. Closing the gaps – be they educational or in terms of health and life expectancy – should be a national priority, the responsibility of all Australians, and we welcome initiatives and strategies that involve working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Together, we can close the gap!