By Dr Mark Lock
ARC Discovery Indigenous Research Fellow
Close the Gap Day 2014 is a time to reflect on the progress we have made towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality. The Prime Minister’s Close the Gap Report 2014 highlighted that for Indigenous life expectancy, the pace of change is far too slow to close the gap by 2031.
Many activities on many fronts are required and so strategic partnerships are required to energise improvements in key areas.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute is the premier research hub where partnerships and collaborations between researchers, governments, industry, and local communities provide an interface for multiple perspectives to cohere into health research that makes a difference to the Hunter community’s wellbeing.
Medical research has shown that being born too early or too small increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. The Mothers and Babies Research Centre at HMRI is committed to looking at innovative ways to improve the cultural knowledge and understanding of health issues for pregnant Aboriginal women.
CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning is a not-for-profit organisation and a mission and outreach agency for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Providing services to the people of the Hunter-Manning regions, it supports people through youth and child services, disability and community services and foster care.
To that end, the Mothers and Babies Research Centre and CatholicCare aim to develop a research agenda to improve services to Aboriginal mothers and their babies. The question is simply what can we do better to close the gaps in service quality and effectiveness for Aboriginal people to improve their health outcomes?