Picture Opportunity: Close The Gap Event - Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

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24th June 2008, 09:14am - Views: 355

Culture Indigenous Victorian Aboriginal Health Service And Oxfam 1 image

Picture Opportunity

24 June 2008





186 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy

10 – 11am


North Melbourne Kangaroo Eddie Sansbury will join Aboriginal health workers, elders and children to help

launch an open day at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service tomorrow, Wednesday, 25 June at 10am.

The Close the Gap Open Day will showcase 35 years’ work of Victoria’s oldest and largest Aboriginal health

service, promote healthy living and give the wider community a chance to learn about Aboriginal health


Aboriginal health workers will be available to answer questions, and a series of talks will include community

elder Aunty Alma Thorpe delivering an oral history of the service, which began in Gertrude Street in 1973. 

Information on healthy living also will be available.

A film and photo exhibition will also be part of the event, which is organised by VAHS and Oxfam Australia.

VAHS CEO Rod Jackson said the Fitzroy service’s approach to health was holistic, with programs including

financial wellbeing, ‘Active Elders’, diabetes clubs, family counselling, dental, women’s and children’s, adult

mental health, a carer group and alcohol and drug support.

The service has 15,000 dental patients and 18,000 medical patients from throughout Victoria on its books,

and receives around 300 telephone calls every day.

“VAHS has excellent immunisation rates, and reports consistently show an average of 91 per cent of

children are fully immunised,” Mr Jackson said.   “This compares with 85.4 per cent of children across inner

Melbourne and rates of less than 50 per cent for Aboriginal children across Victoria.

“It is ‘Close the Gap’ in action,” he said, referring to the campaign aiming to close the 17-year life

expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.  “We are an organisation that is working

every day to Close the Gap on Aboriginal health and life expectancy, and we do it on a small budget.”

More than 115 000 Australians have signed the Close the Gap pledge, calling on governments to increase

annual Aboriginal primary health funding, ensure equal access to health services and Aboriginal

participation in their delivery, and take action on social determinants such as housing and education that are

leading contributors to the poor health of Aboriginal people. 

The Close the Gap Open Day will run from 10am 2pm.

Media enquiries to Laurelle Keough at Oxfam on 03 9289 9336 / 0409 960 100,


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