THIS week the Prime Minister released his seventh annual report on progress towards the Closing the Gap targets. It makes for sobering reading. As has been widely reported, Australia is struggling to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in several areas including life expectancy and education. Mental health is also an area of particular concern. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain twice as likely to die by suicide as non-indigenous Australians. As pointed out by the recent Close the Gap Campaign’s Progress and Priorities report, there is an entrenched mental health crisis among indigenous Australians that may be getting worse. The Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, of which beyondblue is a member, has recommended that mental health and suicide prevention become a new priority focus. We must do everything we can to achieve health equality by the 2030 deadline agreed to by Australia’s major political parties. GEORGIE HARMAN, Beyondblue CEO
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This article first appeared The Queensland Times, 17 February 2015.