26 September 2023

‘Closing the Gap’ found to be expanding

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The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has called on Governments across Australia to “urgently redouble” their efforts to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inequality.

The AHRC’s call followed the release of disappointing new data from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice at the AHRC, June Oscar (pictured) said the release of the first annual data report by the Productivity Commission, Closing the Gap Annual Data Compilation Report (July 2021), revealed that the central commitment to close the life expectancy gap for First Nations people by 2031 was not on track.

Ms Oscar said the Report also showed increased rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons and out-of-home care, and increased rates of suicide.

Ms Oscar, who is also Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign, said the Productivity Commission’s Report was an important tool in tracking progress against the Closing the Gap targets, and in keeping Governments accountable.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen how our current systems and ways of working entrench inequality and fail far too many of our peoples,” she said.

“This year’s Report lays bare that where we are at is not good enough and we must do better.

“Critically, additional needs-based funding is an essential requirement of implementation plans or we will continue to fail.”

She said the Close the Gap Campaign would be monitoring all levels of Government closely to see how they were meeting their jurisdictional commitments to close the gap.

“The National Agreement on Closing the Gap identifies four priority reform areas and 17 socio-economic outcomes that are critical to addressing the devastating and ongoing legacy of colonialism and marginalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Oscar said.

“Yet a year on from the new agreement, an implementation plan is still to be released by the Australian Government,” she said.

The Productivity Commission’s 94-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link and online at this link.

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