Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health officials, will discuss if traditional medicine can reduce the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians at an upcoming forum.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics states the difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy across Australia is still over a decade. In some parts of the country the difference is in excess of 20 years.

It has been ten years since the Olympians Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman launched ‘Close The Gap,’ an initiative with bipartisan support from the government, aimed at reducing the gap between the health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Close the Gap Coalition, a grouping of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and community organisations, in conjunction with approximately 200,000 Australians, has called for governments to contribute towards reaching Indigenous health equality by 2030.

So with all this support behind the initiative, why is there still such a huge gap?

Aboriginal_Art_Australia(3)Could the gap that’s missing be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, knowledge and spirituality? That’s the question and basis for an upcoming forum, which will see some traditional Aboriginal medical healers and senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health officials come together to discuss the issue.

The Close the Gap forum will consider the health, maintenance and traditional healing practices of Aboriginal Ngangkari in western medicine. The Ngangkari work involves careful listening, deep understanding and touch, as they continue the spiritual healing work as handed down to them and their grandparents.

The forum will consider the application of Indigenous knowledge into science and medicine as integral for Aboriginal health and all areas of Aboriginal development.

According to the forum’s event page, Ngangkari healers play a significant role in the provision of holistic health care to Indigenous peoples as well as the harmonisation and integration of traditional medicines into the mainstream bio medical model for health care in Australia.


This topic is of relevance for Australian audiences given that it is a major social and health issue that impacts the lives of many. It is a politically divisive issue and highly topical with this being the ten year anniversary since the launch of ‘Close the Gap.’

There are a plethora of people to try and interview:

  1. Aboriginal medical healers (Ngangkari) from Aṉangu Ngangkaṟi Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (ANTAC)

ANTAC are an organisation of Aboriginal traditional healers from South Australia and part of the panel at the forum.

  1. Oxfam Australia

Oxfam are a community-based aid organisation that run projects to help improve the health and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

  1. Poche Indigenous Health Network

The network researches and influences indigenous health across Australia. It works to effectively organise health resources including to translate research and evidence so it can be used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities in the field.

Preferred publication

The preferred online publication for this article is one of the major Australian news brands, with either the ABC or Fairfax brands The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age, specific targets.

I would like to incorporate multimedia components including video and imagery to accompany the article. Utilising the affordances of online journalism, the article will attempt to engage wider audiences with relevant visual stimulus that complements the hard facts of the text.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Life Expectancy Increases (2013) Retrieved from

Key thinkers forum: Close the Gap ten years anniversary (2016) Retrieved from

Widdup, T. (2016, April 13). 5 sad, frustrating, and extraordinary things we should all know about Indigenous health Retrieved from