A Goldfields Aboriginal health care service hosted a barbecue lunch yesterday to raise awareness of National Close the Gap Day, addressing the significant gap in life expectancy which still exists between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Bega Garnbirringu Health Service provides health and wellbeing services to thousands of people across the Goldfields, and its staff see the health issues indigenous Australians face.
Regional tobacco co-ordinator Sachin Khera said the life expectancy gap was huge, and indigenous families were losing loved ones before they should.
“We see funerals on the noticeboard almost every day,” he said.
“People are only living until about 65, and it’s not right.”
Mr Khera said the centre was working to improve health outcomes for indigenous Australians through education programs, mobile clinics, counselling, health checks and other programs.
“We try to tackle these diseases through our primary and secondary health services so that they can enjoy their good health and stay with their families longer,” he said.
Mr Khera said it was important to try to prevent chronic health conditions from developing, and to manage them if they did.
“In our region we see a lot of diabetes, blood pressure and kidney diseases, and smoking and having an unhealthy diet are the main reasons they have these diseases,” he said. “We do health checks and go to schools to educate children so we can prevent these diseases right from the start.”
The centre services a huge area, with 8500 registered clients who come in two to three times a year, and 110 staff across the service.
“We want to create that change,” Mr Khera said. “Our ultimate aim is quality of life.”