“ These Closing the Gap reports tell the same story of failure every year
The danger of this seemingly endless cycle of failure is that it breeds complacency and cynicism, while excusing those in power.
People begin to believe that meaningful progress is impossible and there is nothing governments can do to improve the lives of our people.
The truth is that the existing Closing the Gap framework was doomed to fail when it was designed without the input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know what will work best for our communities and the Prime Minister even acknowledges in this report that our voice was the missing ingredient from original framework.
The Coalition of Peaks has signed a formal partnership agreement with every Australian government, where decision-making on design, implementation and evaluation of a new Closing the Gap framework will be shared. Through this partnership, the Coalition of Peaks has put forward structural priority reforms to the way governments work with and deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Governments say they are listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the true test in listening is translating the priority reforms into real, tangible and funded actions that make a difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across our country.
This historic partnership could be the circuit-breaker that is needed. However, if they view this process as little more than window dressing for the status quo, the cycle of failure evident in today’s report is doomed to continue.”
Read previous NACCHO Communiques this week
“Every year for the last 12 years we have listened to a disappointing litany of failure – it’s not good enough, Indigenous Australians deserve better.
We are heartened by the developments last year with COAG and the Prime Minister agreeing to a formal partnership with the Coalition of Peaks on the Closing the Gap strategy.
Indigenous involvement and participation is vital – when our peoples are included in the design and delivery of services that impact their lives, the outcomes are far better.
However, now that partnership is in place, Australian governments must commit to urgent funding of Indigenous healthcare and systemic reform.
Preventable diseases continue to take young lives while unrelenting deaths in custody and suicide rates twice that of other Australians continue to shame us all.
As governments reshape the Closing the Gap strategy, we cannot afford for the mistakes of the past to be repeated. “
Close the Gap Campaign co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) CEO Karl Briscoe, have called on the government to invest urgently in health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Download full Close the Gap campaign press release HERE
” There was one glaring omission from the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap speech this week. Housing did not rate a mention. Not a word about action on Aboriginal housing or homelessness.
Housing was not even one of the targets, let alone one we were meeting, but it must be if we are to have any chance of finally closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on all the other targets for life expectancy, child mortality, education and jobs.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3 per cent of Australia’s population but 20 per cent of the nation’s homeless. Aboriginal people are 2.3 times more likely to experience rental stress and seven times more likely to live in over-crowded conditions than other Australians.”
“For the first time ever, there is a commitment from all Australian governments, through COAG, to work with Aboriginal leaders through the peak bodies of Aboriginal organisations to negotiate key strategies and headline indicators that will make a difference.
So long as the negotiations continue in good faith and we stay the course together this should lead to a greater rate of improvement in coming years. Of this I am sure.
There is a commitment to supporting Aboriginal people by giving priority to our own community controlled organisations to deliver the services and programs that will make a difference in our communities while at the same time ensuring mainstream services better meet our needs”
Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress : Read full Report Part 1 below.
“Today is another day we reflect on the Federal Government’s inability to meet the Closing the Gap targets.
This report clearly shows that the gap will continue to widen if reforms aren’t translated into tangible, fully funded actions that deliver real benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the country.
The report reveals that progress against the majority of Closing the Gap targets is still not on track. The gap in mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous
Australians increased last year and there are very worrying signs on infant mortality.
The Federal Government needs to commit to funding solutions to end over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and they must be implemented alongside other areas of disadvantage in the Closing the Gap strategy – health, education, family violence, employment, housing – in order to create real change for future generations.”
Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
“We are deeply concerned about the Federal Government’s decision to not continue funding for remote Indigenous housing. Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to Closing the Gap,”
Nerita Waight, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
Download the full NATSILS press release HERE
” SARRAH welcomes the bipartisan approach by Parliamentarians who committed to work genuinely and collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.
The potential contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is far greater than has been acknowledged or supported to date.
There are many organisations working hard to close the gap, such as Aboriginal community controlled health organisations right across Australia, and Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak allied health body.
Governments, through COAG, working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coalition of Peaks have the opportunity to reset the trajectory.”
Download SARRAH Press Release
“ Many of our communities are affected by a range of adverse experiences from poverty, through to violence, drug and alcohol issues and homelessness.
Without an opportunity to heal from the resultant trauma, its impact can deeply affect children’s brain development causing life-long challenges to the way they function in the world.
It is experienced within our families and communities and from one generation to the next.
We need urgent action to support better outcomes and opportunities for our children.”
SNAICC CEO, Richard Weston
Download the full SNAICC press release HERE
“Mr Morrison will keep failing First Nations peoples and this country until a genuine commitment to self-determination is at the heart of closing the gap.
The Prime Minister’s same old “welfare” rhetoric indicates that the Government really hasn’t got it. While they say they are committed to the COAG co-design process the PM ignores the point that it is his Government continuing to drive discriminatory programs such as the Cashless Debit Card, the CDP program, ParentsNext and who are failing to address the important social determinants of health and wellbeing.
There are a few things this Government needs to do before they just “get people into jobs”, like invest in the social determinants of health and wellbeing and a housing first approach.”
Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations peoples issues Senator Rachel Siewert
Download the full Greens press release HERE
” Australia’s efforts to close the gap are seemingly stuck in a holding pattern.
Though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hailed the beginning of a ‘new era’ of improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the launch of the 12th Closing the Gap report, the results are all but unchanged.”
Part 1 : Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
“It’s also important to recognise that there has been progress here in Central Australia both over the longer term and more recently. Since 1973, the number of Aboriginal babies dying in their first year of life has reduced from 250 to 10 per 1000 babies born, and life expectancy has improved on average around 13 years.
As recently as 2019 we have seen significant improvements across multiple areas.
“Alice Springs has experienced a remarkable 40% reduction in alcohol related assaults and a 33% reduction in domestic violence assaults. This is 739 fewer assaults year on year, or 14 fewer assaults per week”.
“There has been a 33% reduction in alcohol related emergency department presentation which is 1617 fewer presentations year on year or a reduction of 31 per week. Corresponding with this, there has been a decline in hospital admissions and, as noted in the MJA recently, ICU admissions. These are dramatic improvements,” she said.
“The proportion of babies born of low birth weight has halved and the rates of childhood anaemia and anaemia in pregnancy have declined markedly.”
“In addition to this the number of young people who reoffend and therefore recycle through youth detention has dropped dramatically.”
“Combining all of these factors, we are closing the gap on early childhood disadvantage and trauma and this will make a big difference in coming years in other health and social outcomes.”
There are however, still many issues to be addressed, especially with the current generation of young people, as too many have already experienced the impacts of domestic violence, trauma and alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, this has led to the youth issues experienced now in Alice Springs.
The NT government recently advised Congress that they are implementing strategies that are aimed at making an immediate difference while at the same time we know key strategies that will make a longer-term difference are already in place. New immediate strategies include:
- 14 additional police undertaking foot patrols and bike patrols in the CBD
- Police now taking young people home where it is safe to do so, rather than telling them to go home themselves
- The employment of two senior Aboriginal community police officers from remote communities and the recruitment of three others in town and two at Yuendumu
- The flexible deployment of the YOREOs to meet peaks in the numbers of young people out at different hours of the night
- The much more active deployment of the truancy officers to ensure all young people are going to school.
- Access to emergency accommodation options for young people at night
While progress overall is slower than it should be, it is important to acknowledge the successes we are having because of the good work of many dedicated community organisations and government agencies working together in a supportive environment, where governments are adopting evidence based policies.