Unit 8: Closing the Gap

Level 4 VELS, Years 5 and 6


group workThis unit is about the uneven distribution of wealth, resources and access to health services across the world’s peoples. Students will commence the unit by establishing the difference between their own needs and wants and begin to question what really is essential in their lives. They will investigate what poverty is, who it affects, and ways people are trying to address issues of poverty in the world. Students will compare the living conditions and health related issues of people from around the world including Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Through examining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals they will identify ways different groups are working to support people in need. Through the ‘Close the Gap’ campaign students will identify the huge gap in the health needs and issues of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as compared to other Australians.


  • In our world there are some people who have more than they need, some people who have enough, and others who do not have enough resources to meet their needs.
  • There are people across the world, within Australia, and in our own community who cannot access what they need to maintain their wellbeing.
  • Indigenous Australians have significant health issues compared to other groups within Australia.
  • We all have a responsibility to contribute to a more ‘equitable’ world where the dignity of every person is respected.

Rich Question

How can we work towards a more ‘equitable’ world?

Contributing Questions

  • adding infoWhat factors contribute to our wellbeing?
  • What is essential in your life? (needs and wants)
  • Who has enough in the world? Who doesn’t?
  • Do all Australian people have enough to meet their needs?
  • Why do some people have so little whilst others have more than they need?
  • Why do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more health issues than other Australians?
  • Why are some groups of people more at risk than others?
  • Who are the people who work to make a difference?
  • How can we make a difference?

Background Notes

From the Yarra Healing website: essential learnings.

Koorie People Today
When developing units of work on this particular topic, the following learnings need to be considered:

  • computerThere is diversity of lifestyles amongst Indigenous communities today.
  • Kinship ties are integral to Koorie identity and lifestyles.
  • A sense of belonging to 'a place' is an important feature of Koorie identity, although this has been impeded by the dislocation suffered by Indigenous people. Members of regional populations are knitted together by reciprocal relationships of hospitality and help and by lifelong bonds of affection, duty and loyalty to relatives and friends.
  • Significant advances have been made by Koorie organisations and people seeking to overcome the long history of discrimination and disadvantage in mainstream social, educational and economic structures.
  • Efforts to redress past injustices and to advance the status and cultural integrity of Indigenous people are responsibilities which belong to all Australians.

From the Close the Gap website:
Together we can end the Indigenous health crisis

  • researchIn the Social Justice Report 2005, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, called for Australian governments to commit to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and life expectation equality within 25-years. From the Social Justice Report, the Close the Gap campaign was born.
  • The Close the Gap campaign calls on federal, state and territory governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is supported by more than 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations, and seventy-five thousand Australians have already pledged their support to Close the Gap.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a life expectancy 17 years less than other Australians. Yet this is a situation that can be changed. Many successful community run health programs are making a difference: the Townsville Mums and Babies Program has increased child birth weights and cut the perinatal death rate by half. And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled health services have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
  • There is no quick fix but with a long-term commitment to work with Indigenous communities we can bring about change.


Written texts

  • Smith, D, If the World Were A Village, Allen and Unwin, NSW, 2006.
  • We Are All Born Free: Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008.
  • Kindersley, A and B, Children Just Like Me, DK Books London 1995
  • A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World, a DK book in conjunction with UNICEF 2002, DK books Melbourne
  • World Vision Get Connected magazines: Water, and Child Labour. Available to order from the World Vision website.


www.closethegap.com.au/index.php Official website of the Close the Gap campaign dealing with Aboriginal health issues and specifically closing the gap on the difference in life expectancy between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/aboriginal_health_issues?open Further information about Aboriginal health

www.oxfam.org.au/campaigns/indigenous-health/images-sound/ Contains videos, images and sound related to the Close the Gap campaign

www.worldvision.com.au A comprehensive website with many stories and articles about issues of poverty and health around the world.

www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ The United Nations website which outlines the Millennium development goals and the world’s progress towards them.

www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/video-national-apology-to-the-stolen-generations Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, MP - National Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples is available as a video clip or written text on this official website.

www.gapminder.org A website with statistical information about the unequal distribution of wealth and resources around the world presented in easy to read visual formats.

www.hollows.org.au The Fred Hollows foundation provides some real stories about eye disease in Aboriginal communities.

Audio Visual

  • Living With World Families Kit (Peter Leyden)
  • National Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples available on the website: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/video-national-apology-to-the-stolen-generations
  • Make Poverty History, (video) 2005, Caritas Australia
  • Project Compassion Story: Na Rin from Cambodia, DVD 2005
  • Rekha and the Ragpickers, World Vision Educational Resource DVD
  • Sharing Our Culture video Delta Productions
  • One World, One Family, One Mission of Love DVD- Australian Catholic Mission

Guest speakers
St Columban’s Mission Society
Aboriginal Catholic Mission
Caritas Australia