The goal of “closing the gap” in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by 2030 is probably unattainable. • Despite our best efforts, it is implausible that, within 21 years, preventive strategies, social or medical, will extinguish all excess expression and risk of chronic disease, the greatest contributor to excess Indigenous deaths. • Developing systems to supply optimal primary care, as we currently know it, will take time. In addition, we have an incomplete understanding of the nature of excess risk, and lack remedies to totally contain it. Furthermore, vertical imprinting of excess risk will take some generations to ameliorate. • To avoid failure by specifying unattainable goals, emphasis should be given to process measures that will lead to better outcomes. • It is self-evident that sustained change requires better education, nutrition, employment opportunities and infrastructure. • Within the health system, access to good quality, integrated primary care, needs-based health services funding, and an urgent and intensified focus on areas with the highest mortality rates, are top priorities.