Status quo for First Nations peoples ‘not working’

3 minute read

The Productivity Commission has updated four Closing the Gap targets and the news is not good.

The latest update to four of the 15 Closing the Gap targets is out and only two are “on track”.

The lack of progress has prompted the Minister for Indigenous Australians to highlight the importance of a yes vote in the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum.

“The latest data shows once again that the status quo is not working,” said Minister Linda Burney.

“More of the same isn’t good enough, we have to do things differently. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament can help us close the gap, because it’s only by listening to communities that we can make better policies that lead to better outcomes.”

The new data released by the Productivity Commission shows that just four of the 19 Closing the Gap targets are “on track”, while 11 are “not on track”, and four targets don’t show a trend.

Target Three – increasing the number of First Nations children enrolled in preschool to 95% by 2025 – shows “good improvement” and is on-track to be met, according to the PC, with 99.2% enrolled in 2022. This is an increase from 76.7% in 2016.

Target 11 – reducing the rate of First Nations children in detention by at least 30% by 2031 – is also on-track to be met, with the average day rate of 28.3 per 10,000 young people in the population, a decrease from 32.0 per 10,000 in 2018-19 (the baseline year).

“However, this assessment should be used with caution as it is based on a limited number of data points,” said the PC report.

The other two updated targets (10: “By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15%; and 12: “By 2031, reduce the rate of overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children [0-17 years old] in out-of-home care by 45%) are not only not on track, but are in fact worsening.

“We are all frustrated by the lack of progress on some Closing the Gap targets and it’s only through monitoring the data we can move in the right direction,” said Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy.

“Significant investment has been made in initiatives for Indigenous Australians in our first year of government including in health, housing and education. But there is still a long road ahead to Closing the Gap in true partnership with Indigenous communities to improve outcomes today and for future generations.

“These are clear signs of the layers of disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face and reiterates the importance of working closely with communities and state and territory governments to close the gap.”

Health-related targets are either improving, but not on-track to hit targets – the gap in life expectancy (narrowing to 8.6 years for men, and 7.8 years for women), and healthy birth weight – or are worsening – child development in all five domains, and sustained reduction in suicide rate.

The Voice to Parliament referendum is expected to be held between September and December this year.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×