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Harmony helps to close the gap


Steve Spinks
20 March 2013
Southern Cross University campuses at Lismore, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour will host collaborative events tomorrow (March 21) with students and staff involved in Harmony Day and Close the Gap Day events.

Harmony Day is celebrated each year coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home from traditional custodians of the land to newly arrived immigrants.

The continuing theme for Harmony Day is ‘Everyone belongs’, with a sub-theme of ‘Many stories, one Australia’.

Harmony Day events across the Lismore, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour campuses may include storytelling, morning teas, film, dance, art and cooking. The Gold Coast event starts from 10am, the Lismore event from 10.30am, and Coffs Harbour from 10am.

Close the Gap Day is about a commitment by all Australian governments to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, and in particular provide a better future for Indigenous children. Closing the Gap is focused on seven areas including early childhood, schooling, health, economic participation, healthy homes, safe communities and governance and leadership.

Health equality is a key issue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people expecting to live substantially shorter lives than other Australians, up to 20 years in some cases. Furthermore, babies born to Indigenous mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, while Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

This year participants will be asked to sign a petition supporting Close the Gap Day. Already 185,000 Australians have taken the ‘30 for 2030’ pledge supporting Indigenous health equality by 2030.

Participants will also take part in a group photo holding up the words ‘Close the Gap’ at the Lismore and Gold Coast campuses. Close The Gap events will start from 10am at Coffs Harbour in the Gumbaynggirr Room with a Community Forum and lunch; from 11am at the Gold Coast in the foyer of Building A - a group photo followed by a BBQ lunch; and from 11.15am in Lismore following the Harmony Day morning tea in the plaza, Professor Andrew McAuley will talk on SCU’s commitment to Closing the Gap in education, followed by a group photo on the University oval.

Photo: Harmony Day celebrations from last year.