Education the panacea to help Kooris

ROB Waters is fighting for his life.

The Gomeroi man now living in Coffs Harbour is hoping the Close the Gap campaign will help make his life expectancy older than 65.

A 17 year age gap between Aboriginal men and white men is a scary prospect for the young father of three.
“It’s a wake up call,” Mr Waters said.

This new ‘fight’ relies on education to break the cycle of poor health in Aboriginal communities.

Mr Waters said education also holds the key for higher paying employment so families can purchase higher quality foods and avoid cheap alternatives such as high in sugar white breads.

Diabetes, smoking and dangerous drinking habits contribute to the shorter life expectancy.

“It all comes back to education and letting them know early and breaking the cycle,” Mr Waters said.

“It’s about achieving equality straight across the board.

“If we were all the same we would not have a 17 year difference,” Mr Waters said.

In Coffs Harbour yesterday, National Close the Gap day was well received with around 500 people signing an official pledge.

The goals for the national steering committee of the campaign have brought around some big achievements including the Council of Australian Governments’ $1.6 billion injection into Indigenous health.

In April 2007 the NSW Government signed up to a national campaign aimed at closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians over a generation.

This is the largest campaign in Australia’s history to improve Aboriginal health and life expectancies.

Galambila Aboriginal Health Services chairperson Alex Webb said the response of people at the Palm Centre yesterday was heartening.

“We’re getting a lot of support from the non-Indigenous community,” Mr Webb said.

Galambila and Coffs Harbour City Council led by Mr Webb and Mr Waters have been working at many programs to create awareness and promote education of the whole community.

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