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First Nations health service COVID response praised in Close the Gap report

Emma Ruben -

Aboriginal decision-making was critical in responding to the unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, a Close the Gap campaign has found.

The report found there was a need for trust and accountability in partnerships to enable transformative change.

Lowitja Institute chief executive Janine Mohamed said the report showcased how community-led organisations and services were working to provide equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia," she said.

"Now it's time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our people."

Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Vicki O'Donnell said Indigenous community-controlled services were crucial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"They achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are connected and embedded in the community, and are therefore often preferred over mainstream services," she said.

"Therefore it is crucial, that community-controlled services are supported and an equal partner with the Government in decision-making processes around the design and delivery of services.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap initiatives â€" the gap won't close without our involvement," she said.

Among the 12 recommendations were calls for action on gender and climate justice, a national housing framework and full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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