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Closing the Gap

Thursday 17 March 2016 is National Close the Gap Day, a day to bring people together, to share information and to take meaningful action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality in Australia by 2030.

Why is it important?

Most Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world — but this is not true for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who can expect to live 10 to 17 years less than other Australians.

Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

The mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations.

How is BHP Billiton helping to close the gap?

Progress to close the gap is measured across a number of interconnected building blocks that address many of the underlying factors that influence and affect health.

BHP Billiton contributes to a range of programs across these building blocks to support the Close the Gap initiative and see better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Building Block Key elements BHP Billiton programs 
Early childhood

Access to quality early childhood education services; childcare and family support services, appropriate facilities and physical infrastructure, a sustainable early childhood education and health workforce, learning frameworks, and opportunities for parental engagement.

Our partnership with Save the Children in Western Australia increases access to culturally appropriate early childhood care and development, supports transition to school, improves family functioning and increases uptake of local services. 



Adequate and appropriate infrastructure, workforce (including sufficient high quality teachers and school leaders), curriculum, literacy and numeracy achievement, opportunities for parents to engage, and school/community partnerships, transition pathways into schooling and into work, and post-school education and training.

Our long partnership with Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) is providing 185 secondary and tertiary scholarships to Indigenous students over the next 8 years.

Our partnership with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation is helping Indigenous students follow their career dreams by supporting them throughout primary school, to graduating from secondary school and achieving their desired post-school destination at either University, TAFE, an apprenticeship/traineeship or employment.


Health and healthy homes

Access to adequate, preventive and comprehensive primary health care; a focus on prevention, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles at all ages; and the related management and treatment of chronic diseases.

Foodbank WA delivers a breakfast program providing nutritional food to school children in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The organisation also run food literacy workshops aimed at school children, parents and the broader community.


Economic participation

Enhancing employment opportunities, business creation opportunities, economic independence (as opposed to welfare dependence) and wealth creation.

Through the Indigenous Traineeship Program in Queensland, 19 traineeships are being offered in FY16 for Supply and Operating roles.

In Western Australia, RSM Bird Cameron provides financial, commercial, mentoring and advisory services to build capacity of local Indigenous businesses. 


Safe communities

Improving the law and justice system including an accessible and effective police and court system, victim support, child protection, and preventive approaches to violence.

In Western Australia, the YMCA delivers a Mobile Youth Program that aims to improve the health and well-being of Martu youth aged between 10 and 25 by engaging and supporting young people in positive community activities.


Governance and leadership

Skill development for Indigenous people that will enable them to exercise their rights and responsibilities and to take effective control over the develop.

Our partnership with Reconciliation Australia has supported the Indigenous Governance Awards since 2005. The awards recognise efforts to promote and improve governance success across Australia for the social and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

In South Australia, we support the Roxby Downs Community Board to coordinate the Aboriginal Women’s Networking Group.


About Close the Gap

Launched in Sydney in April 2007 the campaign was organised by Close the Gap coalition led by the Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission and involving a coalition of more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Human Right organisations including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) and Oxfam Australia. The coalition urged all levels of government to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and other Australians within a generation.

Watch this video for more information.


How you can support positive change

To be successful the Close the Gap Campaign will need support from all corners of the Australian community. You can get involved and play a part through the following ways;