Closing the Gap: Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative working to improve indigenous life expectancy

GOOLUM Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative has urged people to stop smoking, forge new social connections and keep up a walking regime to help close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy.

The Wimmera’s Aboriginal community, Wimmera Uniting Care, Horsham Agricultural Society, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and Horsham Rural City Council gathered at the G.J. Gardner Community Garden to mark Closing the Gap Day on Thursday.

The federal government has been trying for almost 10 years to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy, health and educational outcomes.

The ninth annual Closing the Gap report found that Australia had made little or no progress towards these goals.

The report found Indigenous people die on average 10-17 years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians and have significantly higher rates of chronic illness and preventable diseases, many of which are rare in other first-world populations.

Goolum Goolum health and wellbeing programs manager Dean O’Loughlin said his organisation had taken a holistic approach to closing the gap in the Wimmera.

“We’re trying to use local opportunities and assets, like the community garden, to bring everybody together,” he said.

“For us, it’s about social inclusion, it’s getting people out and about, having family environments.

“Also, it’s about acknowledging that although this is an indigenous problem, it’s the whole community’s responsibility to take this on.”

Goolum Goolum has started a campaign to get people to stop smoking or never take up the habit.

Mr O’Loughlin said Goolum Goolum had great partnerships with Wimmera Uniting Care, Grampians Community Health and Wimmera Health Care Group.

“The pizza oven trailer is a perfect example of everybody coming together. That was a result of partnerships to pool our resources so we can all use it,” he said.

“We’ll use the pizza oven all year for any sort of community events.

“It’s about being relevant and having a place in the community as a health organisation.”