As National Close the Gap Day events kick off around the country, Joel Fitzgibbon, Member for Hunter encourages all Australians to show their support for health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“While access to healthcare is a basic human right of all Australians, the reality is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live at least ten years less than other Australians,” said Joel Fitzgibbon.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Close the Gap Campaign to close the gap in health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Joel Fitzgibbon used today to highlight the need for increased focus on the alarming rates of Indigenous suicide and mental health issues.

“We need to make mental health a priority if we are to Close the Gap in life expectancy.

“Far too many young lives are being lost in our communities,” said Joel Fitzgibbon.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience mental illness at nearly three times the rate for other Australians and are twice as likely to die by suicide.

“No one should ever feel as though taking their own life is their only option.

“If we want to prevent more lives being lost we must all face up to the challenges of substance abuse, family violence, inadequate housing, unemployment and poverty,” Joel Fitzgibbon said.

“I encourage everyone in Hunter to join a Close the Gap event in their community to learn how we can all help to close the gap in health equality.”

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