Evaluation of Closing the Gap the major initiative to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In 2008, there was a formal apology to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia for the suffering caused by dispossession and forced removal of children. This was followed by the announcement of the “Closing the Gap” program which included a commitment to closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians within a generation and halving the mortality gap for children under five within a decade. These initiatives collectively represented over $2 billion dollar (AUD) investment. Nearly 10 years, on while significant progress has been made the program is not on target to achieve mortality reductions. In this presentation Margaret Kelaher will discuss the evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s engagement in the governance and design of the program as well as the achievements of “Closing the Gap” itself . The presentation will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different evaluative approaches in understanding the program. It will highlight ways in which the “Closing the Gap” could be strengthened to achieve greater health equity.