'Have a yarn': indigenous nurse tells MPs

A young indigenous nurse has urged federal MPs to sit down and "yarn" with them to help address the life expectancy gap with indigenous Australians.

"Sit down, yarn with us and listen to us."

That was the passionate plea from indigenous nurse Banok Rind to parliamentarians as the Close the Gap campaign released its 10 year review.

She admitted it might be a really simple, "dumb" idea, but said it could help lead to a future in 10 to 20 year's time where young indigenous Australians can pave the way for future generations.

"I see our elders strong and healthy, passing on their knowledge," she said at the breakfast event on Thursday.

"I see our beautiful culture embedded in the way our health services will function."

Before colonisation, sickness in communities was treatable, Ms Rind, who is from Badimia country 700km north-east of Perth, said.

Now all her father's 13 siblings have diabetes, heart-related diseases and renal diseases, to name a few.

"Growing up, I thought it was completely normal to see a lot of my elders, my aunties, my uncles sick," she said.

Her address at Parliament House accompanied the launch of the 10 year Closing the Gap review, which showed spending on indigenous health needs a boost if Australia is to ever rein in the life expectancy gap.

The steering committee - a coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and advocacy groups - says the federal government strategy has all but fallen apart and a "refresh" is needed.

The release also comes ahead of Friday's Council of Australian Government's meeting which is due to discuss the future of the strategy.

Ms Rind acknowledged leaders present, including Malcolm Turnbull - but noted he had left the event before it finished.

Labor senator Pat Dodson criticised the prime minister for leaving the function.

"It's indicative of the deafness, the absolute derision and the contempt which this government is meting out to the Aboriginal people," the senator told reporters afterwards on Thursday.

However, it's understood organisers were aware of Mr Turnbull's schedule and that he would leave at the time he did.

"The prime minister listened to the keynote address and left as scheduled," a spokesman told AAP.

2 min read
Published 8 February 2018 at 11:10am
Source: AAP