Perth rallies to close the gap


Around 200 people, including a dozen parliamentarians, rallied in front of the Western Australian parliament on September 18 to demand a closing of the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. At present, Aboriginal Australians die 17 years earlier than non-Aboriginal Australians.

Keynote speaker and Noongar elder Professor Ted Wilkes from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University said he believed the gap to be even greater in the south-west corner of Australia, from his broad personal experience of Noongar and Yamiji people dying at a young age. He cited adverse health outcomes for Indigenous people in every category, including dental care. Issues such as
substance abuse and poor mental health were directly attributable to the trauma and discrimination faced by Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal dancers led the crowd in a chant demanding better health now. A smoking purification ceremony preceded a signing of the "close the gap" petition. The campaign is organised by Oxfam.

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