The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) supports the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins announced the RACGP’s official position today.
“The Voice to Parliament will help drive changes to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and address the inequity in our health system,” she said.
“The RACGP’s position on the Voice builds on our previous advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health, including our endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart recommendations, and our commitment to close the gap in health inequality.”
Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty, Dr Karen Nicholls, said the Voice will make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
“This will improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.
“In Australia, this change will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are central in the laws, programs and services that affect us and our communities. This will lead to better health outcomes and is a key step to closing the gap in health equality.
“Research clearly shows the links between constitutional recognition and improved health outcomes*. It makes recognition in health legislation easier, which leads to greater involvement in health policy making and service delivery. There is evidence of this from the many other countries that have already established models for constitutional and treaty recognition, including New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and Norway, ** and it’s time that Australia followed suit.”
* R. Mokak. 2015. The link between health and wellbeing and constitutional recognition. Med J Aust; 203 (1): 1; C. Lawrence. 2013. Aboriginal health and the Australian Constitution: how do we fix them both? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12026
** Howse, G. 2011, Legally Invisible—How Australian Laws Impede Stewardship and Governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, The Lowitja Institute, Melbourne.