Extra Guidance for Schools

Stand with First Australians on National Close the Gap Day 2021

More than a decade ago now, in 2008, the Close the Gap Campaign began National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) to give opportunity to schools, business and communities around Australia the opportunity to stand with First Australians in demanding health equality for all.

From its humble beginnings, the third Thursday of March each year has seen NCTGD grow into a significant national day in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. We now have hundreds of thousands of people involved in events around the country each year - making it clear to our governments that Australians overwhelmingly support equality in our health system.

While progress in closing the gap has been far too slow for our liking, everyday we see great examples of communities and services showing innovation and initiative that is having a great and positive impact on the gap.

We are writing to you to strongly encourage your active participation in National Close the Gap Day this year. Set for Thursday, 18 March, we want to see more and more schools join with us in showing our support. This is an educational opportunity where students, teachers and the whole school community can come together to discuss the facts of Indigenous health.

What can you do?

Firstly, we encourage your school to register an event at the Campaign’s online pages.

You can also:

  • Find resources to download for the students and here more about the events taking place around the country.
  • Visit and Share the Close the Gap Facebook page to stay informed on the issues
  • Raise money for the Campaign
  • Write to your local MPs to express your support for health equality and to remind our parliaments around the country of their responsibility to close the gap.

Finally, we would love to hear about and see pics of what you are doing on NCTGD so please stay in touch by sending us your stories and pictures at [email protected]

Thanks again,

Rod Little and June Oscar
Co-Chairs, Close the Gap Campaign

What’s in this guide?

What is the Close the Gap Campaign?

Aboriginal health can no longer wait. The time is now to Close the Gap.

This National Close the Gap Day, we have an opportunity to send our governments a clear message that Australians value health equality as a fundamental right for all.

Despite more than a decade of Government promises Aboriginal health in Australia is still in crisis. We are so lucky to live in an afluent country with a universal health system that is the envy of many other countries. However, many of Australia’s First Peoples are denied the same access to healthcare that non-Indigenous Australians take for granted.

Aboriginal people are dying from preventable disease at three times the rate of the rest of the population, and yet their use of health services is far lower than what is needed. The support of many Australians, by participating in the ever-growing National Close the Gap Day, has been crucial in much of the work the Campaign has done to bring health inequality to light.

With your ongoing help, and commitment, the Close the Gap Campaign is redoubling its efforts to keep our governments on target for health equality for Australia’s First Peoples by 2030. Our message this year is clear. Words alone are not enough, we need real action from governments to Close the Gap!

Every event - whether at a school, in an office, or out in the community - demonstrates to governments, at all levels, that Australians value health equality for all. The Close the Gap campaign is supported by hundreds of thousands of people all around Australia including young people just like you. Last year, thousands of  students and teachers, from hundreds of schools, took action in support of health equality by hosting a National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) event.

Holding an event at your school will help celebrate the successes of the Close the Gap campaign, but also raise awareness on the work that still needs to be done. You can send a clear message to those who need to hear it, by asking everyone you know to sign the Close the Gap petition action this year at your event: https://antar.org.au/closethegap/petition 

This NCTGD ‘How To’ Guide is designed for you, Australian school students and teachers, who are looking to make some noise, make a difference, and show support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health equality. It’s full of tips on how you can make your event a success, and should be used with the other goodies on our website for you to download , like videos, posters and  more.

One last thing before we get right into it: in case you haven’t already, please register your school’s event now:


What is ‘the Gap’ and why does it need to be closed?

The United Nations Human Development Index consistently ranks Australia as one of the most developed nations in the world. We’re an enormously wealthy nation, and overall, have among the highest life expectancy of any country in the world.

However, NOT if you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. In fact, mortality rates for Indigenous Australians are on par with some of the poorest countries in the world. In 2009, the United Nations’ State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples report found that Australia and Nepal tie for having the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between their respective Indigenous and non- Indigenous populations. Although improvements in health have been made, six years later, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still live significantly shorter lives than other Australians.

Why is this the case? One factor is that Indigenous Australians experience much more serious health problems. This includes diseases that are rarely found in Australia’s broader population and includes rheumatic heart disease that can lead to permanent heart damage and even heart failure. Indigenous Australians also experience much higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, as well as other heart, kidney and eye diseases.

Access to health care is generally more difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whether it be because of geographic distance, lack of services, lack of culturally appropriate services, or intergenerational trauma leading to mistrust of mainstream health services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to have high rates of chronic disease such a kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and eye diseases that cause blindness.

These health issues start at a young age. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are also more likely to get sick often, especially with ear and eye conditions, which makes it extremely hard to do well at school. Early health issues can make good health later in life harder too.

Significant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience racism, which can have serious impacts on mental health. Unsurprisingly, in the face of this, there are high rates of smoking and substance abuse.

The story so far

But hold up, it’s not all doom and gloom! We have come a long way in the right direction. In the 12 years since the Close the Gap campaign was launched there are many positive stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around Australia successfully improving their health. For starters, smoking rates have significantly declined. Infant and child mortality rates have also fallen thanks in part to some amazing programs run by Aboriginal Medical Services around the country.

Close the Gap is now also supported by all the major political parties. And most federal, state and territory governments have now signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent, a commitment to achieve Indigenous health equality within a generation.

What more needs to happen?

We are at a critical stage. Twelve years into our 25-year campaign and we need to maintain the momentum. We know it’s ambitious, but with the energy, determination and support of young people like you, we know we can Close the Gap. We need you to help keep health equality on the political agenda by reminding governments of their promises to achieve it. This includes making sure governments work in meaningful partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to improve health standards. And that Indigenous Australians are given the opportunity to develop and deliver the services, programs and policies.

It’s only through this involvement that we will see sustainable long-term improvements in Indigenous health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are proud, capable and passionate about improving the health of their communities.

Schools in action: Warriappendi School and Lourdes Hill College help Close the Gap

In 2017, over 79,000 teachers and students came together to celebrate National Close the Gap Day. We followed two very different schools, separated by over 2,000 kilometres, to see how they each made a stand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.

Warriappendi School

For Warriappendi School, National Close the Gap Day holds a special significance. Based in the suburbs of Adelaide,this small school works closely with young Aboriginal people, and helps them to re-engage in formal education processes. Priding itself on having creative and meaningful programs, this unique school is taking active steps to Close the Gap within its own school community.

One way that Warriappendi School is working towards closing the gap is by changing the food culture within their school.All students who attend the school are enrolled in a hospitality certificate, where they learn to cook healthy and nutritious meals, and serve them to other students at lunchtime. Not only does this promote healthy eating, it also gives students skills to utilise in their homes, communities, and in the job market.

In 2017, Warriappendi School celebrated National Close the Gap Day by holding lessons about Indigenous health for all their students, which included classroom activities, outdoor games, and healthy snacks. They also put their cooking skills into practice, cooking and serving meals to their school community at lunchtime.

Lourdes Hill College

Meanwhile… half a nation away in Brisbane, long time Close the Gap supporters, Lourdes Hill College, a Catholic secondary girls school also ran an event campaigning to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes.

Their event took the form of a school-wide lunchtime festival, involving a wide range of activities including petition signing, banner painting, a sausage sizzle, roaming chatterbox quizzes, a photo booth, skipping, basketball, competitions, music, and more…

A highlight of the event was inviting local elder Aunty Joan for a yarning circle, with all students encouraged to take a seat and join in.

Planning your day

So… how on earth do we run a National Close the Gap Day event?

Brainstorming activities

This is the fun bit. To start, just ask yourself:

  • What are the people in your group good at? What are they into? Sport? Music? Dance? Social media?
  • How can we incorporate those things on the day?
  • How can we get everyone involved at some stage?
  • How can we entertain people and make sure they have fun?
  • How can we make sure people learn more about the campaign and how they can get involved?
  • Your event needs to be meaningful to you and your school — make sure it’s relevant to the stuff people in your community might understand or experience themselves. Ask yourself:
  • Will it be enjoyable?
  • Will we get people thinking, asking questions and wanting to make a difference?
  • Be passionate AND realistic — what can you do with what you’ve got? You’ll be surprised at how even a small group of people, with just a few resources, can end up creating an awesome event!
  • Making it happen
  • Use our Event Action Plan to organise yourselves.
  • On the day, make sure someone is on hand to document the fun. Are there any student journalists who can take photos, make videos or write reflection pieces?
  • Recording your day can make your voice heard by people beyond your school. You can also email them to us at [email protected], along with the release form. You might make you and your school famous on our blog!

10 Top tips

Indigenous health equality is everyone’s business. So let’s make National Close the Gap Day 2020 as big as we can. Let’s get so many people involved that governments are compelled to take further action. That means planning for success! Here are some tips to help you maximise the impact of your activity.

1. Know what you want to achieve
The aim of National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) is to bring people together, both at your school and across Australia, and to take action. What do you want people to get out of the day? To know more about the issue? To know how to make a difference? Have fun? Sign the pledge? All of the above?

2. Build a team
Making a NCTGD group makes planning fun, and guarantees a great event.

3. Choose your date
We’re asking you to hold your activity on Thursday 19 March 2020 to maximise the impact of the day. If this date isn’t possible, why not integrate your event with National Reconciliation Week (beginning 27 May), or NAIDOC week (2-9 July)?

4. Make an invitation list
Invite students, teachers, family, community members, elders, your local Member of Parliament, the local paper and any other important people. Create your own invitations, send them out, and put up posters around your school and community.

5. Plan your event
Get inspiration from the activity ideas on this page. We’ve included an example action plan and checklist, and one for you to fill out yourself at the end of this guide.

6. Make it awesome
The best events are fun, informative and interactive. Use music, play the Close the Gap video, have activities, get peeps involved and sign the pledge.

7. Plan your resources
What do you already have and what will you need to make it all happen? Get those cameras, paints, props, music ready.

8. Take ACTION
Signing the Close the Gap petition sends a message to our leaders that the movement for health equality is growing and keeps you in touch with the campaign. You may also want to write to your local politician or the Prime Minister and tell them that you and your school care about this issue.

9. Make some noise!
Tell us what you’re planning – facebook.com/closethegapcampaign – and post your pics. You can also follow us on Instagram – @closethegapcampaign – and tag us, using #closethegap #NCTGD #nationalclosingthegapday. You can also send us your event photos, video and audio (along with the photo release form) so we can show you off on our website.

10. Celebrate and reflect on your achievements
Have a post-event celebration and thank everyone who helped out. How many students did you reach? How many people helped and joined in? How many people signed the pledge? Talk about what worked and what you’d change for next year. Look back and enjoy your success — you’ve earned it!

Need some more help and advice email our team at [email protected]

Activity ideas

Make it

  • Create a banner, mural or sculpture.
  • Take part in the Close the Gap student Instagram photo challenge (see page XX).
  • Create artwork exploring differing perspectives on Close the Gap.
  • Make a short film of your event — use your camera or phone.
  • Make your own Close the Gap posters by hand or using design software.
  • BOOK THE SEA OF HANDS: Hire ANTaR’s iconic Sea of Hands for your own community installation. The Hands have their own history as a symbol for the Land Rights movement and reconciliation in Australia. The Hands come in six colours from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags and look brilliant when planted as community in the school oval or other outdoor space. More information can be found at: www.antar.org.au/handsup

Play it

  • Be Quizmaster. Use our downloadable chatterboxes to test your Close the Gap knowledge.
  • Move it Mob Style! Check out www.moveitmobstyle.com.au and create a flash mob, run a dance class, or host a dance concert.
  • Run a sports event.
  • Take it to the stage — write and perform your own play.

Show it

  • To show your respect for Australia’s First Peoples and their culture, start with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land you’re meeting on. Can you invite a local elder?
  • Use your art and photos to create an exhibition.
  • Set up a display or stall in the playground, for the week leading up to National Close the Gap Day.
  • Decorate your school and classroom with posters from here. Even change your school sign to show your support.
  • Show the Close the Gap videos with our Youtube Close the Gap video playlist in class or assembly. Find the videos here: https://youtu.be/QzUp41sel-I

Say it

  • Write it, rhyme it, tell a story. We’ve all got different experiences of ‘the gap’ — what does it mean to you? Say it in a rap, a poem, a story or any style you like. Say it at assembly, in class or write it for the school newsletter. Set up a yarning circle.
  • Invite an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community member to talk to your class or the school. You’ll get a personal perspective of the issues and our older generations are often amazing storytellers.
  • Dive to the depths and have a debate. This is a great way to look at every part of the issue, like “Is it possible to close the health gap?”, “Are young people the key to closing the gap?” and “Should closing the health gap be a priority for our governments at state and federal levels?”
  • See if you can get on your community radio station to talk about what your school’s doing. They’ll want a rundown of what Close the Gap is, so get yourself prepared by reading the sections at the beginning of this guide.
  • Write to your local paper to see if they’d like to cover your event. They’ll want to interview a spokesperson, so nominate a student and brush up on your Close the Gap knowledge.

Read about it

  • There are some great reads on First Nations culture and issues available in the books section of our online shop. We also stock small or large wall maps, showing the unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken across Australia. 

Fundraising for National Close the Gap Day

It’s easy, just try these ideas to help get you started:

  • Check out the ‘Read about it’ ideas in this guide
  • Hold a lunchtime movie screening and charge a gold coin donation
  • Get your craft on – why not make some handmade goods to sell at a stall on event day? It could be anything – jewellery, bookmarks, badges, you name it!
  • Play Classroom Trivia and try to answer all our chatterbox questions in teams – and don’t forget to charge a gold coin to be part of the fun! Download chatterboxes here.

For more about fundraising and banking donations, check out the Donation Form

Proceeds from National Close the Gap Day fundraising support the advocacy for community-led health initiatives and other core priorities in Aboriginal health. Funds raised support the awareness of and engagement with NCTGD, getting the Co-Chairs messages out to the Australian public, strengthening the partnerships and work of the campaign, and year round advocacy for Close the Gap.

This year is critical, the forthcoming federal election is a key moment. Australians will be looking for a new approach from the next federal government, one that follows through on commitments to First Nations People in a genuine, meaningful and effective way. The Close the Gap campaign efforts will empower community led health initiatives around the nation if the next government responds in a positive way.

Funds raised can be deposited by EFT or received by cheque, please email [email protected] and we can provide a form for these methods. Alternatively, funds can be donated by credit card here: https://antar.org.au/closethegap/donate

Taking Action: Support this year’s petition

All Australians should be able to enjoy a world-class health system that is free of systemic racism and geared to closing the life expectancy gap between Australia’s First Peoples and their fellow non-Indigenous citizens.
This is what National Close the Gap Day is all about - Australians showing how much they hope to see a new determine approach from government to Close the Gap.

Our petition this year backs the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the front line services and programs that are achieving success in closing the gap. Show them your support and join our call for all Australian governments to get behind Aboriginal Community Controlled health.

You can download the petition sign up sheet here and collect signatures. Or share this link: https://antar.org.au/closethegap/petition

For teachers: close the gap in the classroom

Don’t worry teachers, we’ve got you covered! ANTaR’s partner Oxfam Australia has come up with a range of free classroom resources that you can use to integrate NCTGD in the classroom.

As a bonus, these resources are aligned to the Australian Curriculum, to help you address your learning outcomes!

Live Strong: Close the Gap

A free, education resource inspired by the Close the Gap campaign. Written for Year 7–10 students studying the newly endorsed Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education the resource was created in collaboration ACHPER. It helps students explore issues surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, promote inclusivity and plan health practices and strategies to enhance their own health and the well-being of their communities.

Hands On Health

A free education resource, designed for Yr 11 & 12 Health students, that includes various activities on Close the Gap and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues.

Our resources have been created with the Australian Curriculum in mind, and address the cross-curricular priority ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’. They are also applicable across a number of subjects and learning areas, including: Geography, History, Health and Physical Education, English, Civics and Citizenship, Art, Social Justice and Indigenous studies.

There’s also a great range of resources have been contributed by teachers, and supporters of the Close the Gap campaign. To access these free resources and more, visit the Oxfam Australia schools program website or contact the schools program team at [email protected].

Find out more

Still looking for more?

Visit the ANTaR partner Oxfam Schools program website links where we’ve got heaps more useful resources to help make your National Close the Gap Day a success. Check out the following links below:

Live Strong Classroom Resources

Hands on Health Classroom Resources

Chatterbox Classroom Discussion Aid

Watch: Go to Oxfam’s youtube channel here for useful and engaging videos about the Close the Gap campaign. Use it to learn more about the campaign, or to show at your event to help educate others. Try our 2017 Close the Gap video, or our Schools in Action videos!

Learn: about common myths and misconceptions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the Australian Human Rights Commission. Or watch ABC’s “You Can’t Ask That” (PG) Indigenous episode.

School Registration Form

Step 1: Organiser Details
Thanks for taking on the role of event organiser. Complete the checklist below so we can get all the details of your event right. We will then review and confirm your event by email. You will then be able to use the tools on this page to share and promote your event and even help us raise some funds for the national campaign to Close the Gap. We appreciate your efforts and we are always here to help. Email us any time [email protected]
Step 2: The Basics
Tell us the basics about your activity. Such as what you have planned, when it will be and in your own words why people should come and support health equality.