Implement the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration to progress Closing the Gap
Following today’s release of the Productivity Commission’s Review of the National Agreement on
Closing the Gap, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is calling for urgent implementation of the
Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration within Australia’s mental health system.
While the objective of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement) is to
overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians, the Review of the National Agreement (the
Review) found that governments have not fully grasped the scale of change required to their
systems, culture, operations, and ways of working to deliver the unprecedented shift they have
“Those of us working in the community controlled sector are not surprised by this Review’s
outcome”, said CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, Ms Rachel Fishlock. “This Review is a
clear example of why the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration needs to be implemented in full
and embedded into Australia’s mental health system.
“We have an implementation plan drafted and ready to go. It was developed by a National
Governance Committee and an Expert Advisory Committee of key government officials across
jurisdictions and tested with community members with a lived experience of mental health and
social and emotional wellbeing services, but we’re waiting for the government to endorse it.”
The Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration focuses on a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide
prevention; promoting an appropriate balance of clinical and culturally-informed mental health
“Those of us working in the Australian mental health system know how important Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander presence and leadership is to attaining the highest standard of social and
emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention outcomes for our people”, said
Professor Helen Millroy, Chair of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.
“Full implementation of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration would reflect a fundamentally
new way of providing mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide prevention services
to our people – a commitment Australian governments made when signing the National Agreement.
“As the Review found, we can’t keep making small tweaks to business as usual processes – we need
to make substantive and systemic changes. Implementation of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit)
Declaration is a great place to start”.
Media are reminded of the importance of abiding by the Good Yarn Guidelines when reporting on
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters, including the provision of 24/7 crisis helpline services:
13 YARN (139276); Brother to Brother crisis line (1800 435 799); Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
Media contact: Clare Butterfield, Director of Communications, email@example.com
or 0450 095 822