“The report highlights that the complexities of Indigenous affairs are not intractable, there is a clear way forward for Indigenous rights and the solutions lie with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ourselves, and not with policy and funding structured around the whim of a minister or life of a government,”
“I call on all Australian governments to implement these recommendations in full and as a matter of urgency. Partner with us and we will realise equality.”
Respected human rights campaigner and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Professor Tom Calma said the Oxfam report provided a valuable perspective on the state of human rights for Indigenous people on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.
Professor Calma said the report outlined 10 clear steps to move beyond recognition and bring about real change.
Download the report HERE
The failure of successive governments to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is condemning too many Indigenous Australians to stark inequality and entrenched disadvantage, according to an Oxfam report published today.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the report found funding for Indigenous services was inadequate, misdirected, uncertain and lacking in transparency.
Dr Szoke said new economic analysis by Oxfam had found more than one in five Indigenous households were in Australia’s poorest 10 per cent of households – more than twice the rest of Australia.
Each year we see considerable support amongst Australians for closing the gap. Yet less than one in four Australians polled by Oxfam had some degree of confidence the disadvantages of Indigenous people would be addressed in the next decade.
“Half a century on from the historic 1967 referendum, far too many Indigenous Australians live in circumstances akin to those in developing countries,” Dr Szoke said.
“Many of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have not progressed – at the heart of this injustice is the failure to genuinely include Indigenous people in decision-making.
“At a time when we should be celebrating, our Constitution still fails to recognise our First Peoples, Indigenous children are sent to detention in greater numbers than ever and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still die 10 to 17 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.”
Dr Szoke said as an international aid agency, Oxfam’s experience showed listening to and working in partnership with local communities was the key to achieving real change.
“Oxfam’s report is not only evidence of the problems, it also highlights what is working well and makes realistic recommendations which would reset governments’ relationship with indigenous people,” Dr Szoke said.
“These recommendations include funding for an elected Indigenous body, funding preference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers and minimum five-year funding agreements.”
Australian governments have failed Indigenous peoples, says Oxfam
Successive Australian governments have failed to achieve meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a report by Oxfam that calls for a drastic overhaul of all areas of Indigenous policy and interaction with government.
The report, released on Wednesday, outlines 10 recommendations including changing the native title system to make it easier to both attain and leverage as an economic and cultural asset; reestablishing a national elected representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; changing the funding system to prioritise community-run Indigenous organisations; and implementing every relevant recommendation from every major report into Indigenous affairs in the past 30 years.
The last task alone would keep the federal government in policy reform for several years: the majority of recommendations made by significant Indigenous inquiries, from the 339 recommendations of the 1991 royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody onwards, have never been implemented or have been implemented only in part.
The report comes a week after a UN investigator released a damning preliminary report saying repeated failure to enact UN recommendations on Indigenous issues would damage Australia’s chances of securing a seat on the security council.
Writing in the foreword, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Prof Tom Calma said the government should implement the recommendations of the Oxfam report with “all possible urgency” to break the cycle of policy renewal and change that had rarely resulted in meaningful change on the ground
“Over the years, the urgent need to respect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been documented in far too many reports , reviews and inquiries – by royal commissions, parliamentary committees, government agencies, human rights and equal opportunity commissions, respected United Nations bodies, and indeed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ourselves,” Calma said.
“Yet these reports are consistently ignored by successive governments, while too many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters continue to experience the reality of these failures every day in our communities. Sadly, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still live shorter, less healthy lives with lower socioeconomic outcomes than non-Indigenous people.”
Australia is only on track to meet one of its seven closing the gap targets. Delivering his closing the gap speech in February, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said “community driven” initiatives would be central to meeting those targets.