UnitingSA is today recognising national Close the Gap Day as an important reminder of the ongoing battle to achieve health, education, and economic equality for all First Peoples.
Gaps in outcomes in life expectancy, infant mortality, education, employment, and the justice system are measured each year in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall says staff across many of the organisation’s services see and feel the entrenched inequality faced by First Peoples.
“In 2021-22, more than 20 per cent of people accessing UnitingSA’s Community Services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander,” Ms Hall said.
“And in September 2022 alone, we supported nearly 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – 65 per cent of whom were female.”
Ms Hall says UnitingSA is doing what it can to be an active contributor in closing the gap, starting with reconciliation.
“Through our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launched in June last year, and our tailored programs such as Connected Families and Minya Ones, led by our dedicated Aboriginal Family Workers, we are taking steps to develop a deeper understanding and respectful relationships that are foundational to bridging the gap,” she said.
UnitingSA today published its latest quarterly progress report for its Reflect RAP which shows the organisation has so far delivered on 24 (56%) of the 43 practical actions outlined in the plan, with 21 others (23%) in progress or due to commence before July.
Action highlights include:
- identifying and reaffirming links with organisations and community partners it can collaborate with on its reconciliation journey
- developing a guide and checklist to ensure anti-discrimination strategies are considered in policy and procedure development
- reviewing recruitment and advertising activities to strengthen inclusiveness, including developing an Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander Recruitment toolkit
- bolstering awareness and involvement in NAIDOC Week
- flying or displaying the Aboriginal flag across all UnitingSA sites
- mapping the Traditional Owners of country throughout UnitingSA’s service locations in partnership with First Nations Elders, advisory and community groups.
Today UnitingSA is also taking to the opportunity to promote its services and programs at the Closing the Gap Day 2023 event organised by Sonder and Nunkuwarrin Yunti at the Adelaide Showground. Team members from Uniting SA’s NDIS, Child Youth and Families Services, and the Adelaide North West Homelessness Alliance are hosting stalls to bridge the gap in accessing key information about its services.
“Closing the Gap is a non-negotiable if we are to be a fair society,” Ms Hall said.
“UnitingSA is committed to doing what it can, and should, to chip away at inequality and bring about a just community in which all people can participate and flourish.”