The first time I saw John Butler perform was a historic day. Yes, the John Butler Trio are awesome and seeing them live for the first time almost qualifies as a historic moment all by itself, but this was on the day of the apology to the Stolen Generations. In the atmosphere of joy, relief and hope radiating from the crowds on the lawns outside Parliament House, John Butler jumped on the makeshift stage and gave a beautiful impromptu concert.
Fast forward two years, and the John Butler Trio remain committed to the ongoing struggle for justice and equality for Indigenous Australians. Their current April Uprising tour supports the Close the Gap campaign, with stalls being held at concerts around the country.
At these concerts, we spoke to people about the issues, the campaign, and some things we can all do to make sure the health and life expectancy gap is closed within a generation. Here’s the 60-second lowdown:
- The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is more than a decade.
- Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by preventable diseases, and Indigenous babies are dying at twice the rate of other Australian babies.
- The Close the Gap campaign is calling on governments to take action to achieve Indigenous health equality within a generation.
Thanks to so many people and organisations getting behind it, the campaign has had some major wins. In 2008, the Australian Government committed to the goal of Indigenous health equality by the year 2030, and announced unprecedented levels of new funding for Indigenous health. But there is still a long way to go. In particular, the government needs to develop a comprehensive and long-term plan of action, ensure the full participation of Indigenous people and their representative bodies, and give more support to community controlled health services.
So what can you do to help Close the Gap?
There are many ways to get involved in the campaign, but here are five things you can do without even leaving your computer:
- Sign Oxfam Australia’s Close the Gap pledge.
- Ask the government to get it right on closing the gap.
- Join the Close the Gap facebook group and keep an eye out for news and events.
- Download “Funky Tonight” performed live by the John Butler Trio and Keith Urban. All proceeds go to the Close the Gap campaign.
- Pledging, joining and letter-writing? Make sure you tell all your friends and post it on Facebook or Twitter! It’s a really easy way to spread the word about the campaign, and it might inspire other people to take action too.
By Oxfam intern Giselle Hall.