This week marked nine years since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology.
This week marked nine years since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology. CHRISSY HARRIS

Local indigenous elders commemorate National Apology

PARTIAL blindness, kidney disease and diabetes are among the significant threats to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland.

This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the ninth annual Closing the Gap report, which revealed Australia is failing in six out of seven target areas regarding Indigenous disadvantage.

It found a target to half the gap in mortality rates between indigenous and non-indigenous children by 2018 is not on track, nor is the overall gap in life expectancy by 2031.

In the wake of these findings local elders will this morning gather at the Rockhampton Allied Health Clinic to commemorate nine years since the National Apology.

On February 13, 2008 former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stepped up in Parliament, addressed the nation, and apologised for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that had inflicted grief, suffering and loss for generations of indigenous Australians.

Local community Elders Aunty Judy, Aunty Carol, Uncle John, Aunty Elaine and Aunty Irene will lead the commemoration at the clinic, which hosts fortnightly allied health appointments and healthy lifestyle education sessions, which provide an opportunity for the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community to access services in a culturally appropriate setting.

READ: CQ elder reflects on Apology Day, 'no one is going to fix things for us'

Bidgerdii Social and Emotional Wellbeing Coordinator Shelley Truscott, Torres Strait Elder Poyana (Poy) Pensio and Bidgerdii CEO Thalep Ahmat
Bidgerdii Social and Emotional Wellbeing Coordinator Shelley Truscott, Torres Strait Elder Poyana (Poy) Pensio and Bidgerdii CEO Thalep Ahmat Trinette Stevens

According to Primary Health Network data Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland are seven times more likely to suffer from complete or partial blindness, four times more likely to suffer kidney disease and three times more likely to develop diabetes.

Andrew Wills, the Central Queensland general manager for the Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN said access to culturally appropriate care had a significant impact on the health of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

"The recognition of the cultural significance of events such as the National Apology is a crucial contribution to enabling a culturally appropriate service which empowers the local community to access health education and the services of medical professionals,” Mr Wills said.

"It is important to effectively work with the community as, on average Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives are 10.8 years shorter for men and 8.6 years shorter for women.”

The allied health clinic provides a single location for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to attend appointments with health professionals including podiatrists, exercise physiologists, dietitians, diabetes educators and physiotherapists.

These services are provided at no cost for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, lung disease or heart disease.



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