Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt said national Close the Gap Day (today) is a day for the nation to shine a light on health issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mr Pitt said Close the Gap day is a day for governments to commit to work even harder and to continue to take practical steps to close the gap on the health, education and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It’s a day to acknowledge our past and the health problems that flowed when children were wrenched from their families and forced to grow old in cold institutions where some were physically and sexually abused,” Mr Pitt said.

“It’s a day to reflect on the dire consequences of being denied the health, education, housing and employment opportunities which were used to justify that flawed government policy in the first place.

“As a nation, we have moved on from the days when visible difference led to discrimination. In our partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we have developed policies and delivered services that are helping to make a difference.

“We share a common goal – to build stronger communities that will stand up to the scrutiny of future generations,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the State Government’s practical programs are having direct, positive impacts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In the latest COAG report, Queensland is performing above the national average across the major key indicators of life expectancy at birth, the infant mortality ratio, low birth weight babies, Year 3 reading and numeracy, 20 to 24-year-olds attaining at least a Year 12 equivalent and the unemployment rate.

“I could speak of the billions of dollars we’re investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but it’s not about figures, it’s about people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will tell you they want a hand up, not a hand out,” he said.

“That’s why we’re building better homes, creating economic opportunities and improving health outcomes.

“We are rolling out programs under our Reconciliation Action Plan which is the first whole-of government plan of its kind in Australia.

“There’s more work to be done and we, as a government, are determined to put in the hard yards to build a better, brighter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Pitt said.