26 September 2023

Commission steps in on gap-closing program

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The Productivity Commission has released its third Annual Data Compilation Report providing point-in-time snapshots of progress against targets and indicators in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Commission said the report monitored progress using the available data on targets and indicators, but was separate from the Commission’s coming three-yearly review of overall progress.

The Report reveals that only four of the 19 targets were on track to be met: Preschool enrolment, Youth detention, Employment and Land subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests.

The Commission said progress had been made towards a further seven targets, but not at the level required for the targets to be met on schedule.

Commissioner Romlie Mokak said it was encouraging to see some progress in areas such as education and training and that overcrowding in housing has been reduced.

“But progress needs to accelerate if the targets are to be met in these areas,” Commissioner Mokak said

Outcomes in four target areas are going backwards, he said.

“Fewer children are developmentally on track when starting school, and the rates of children in out-of-home care, adults in prison and people dying by suicide have all increased.”

While targets are set nationally, some States and Territories were clearly falling behind on the target outcomes more than others.

According to Commissioner Natalie Siegel-Brown, the worsening of outcomes in the NT, and in out-of-home care rates in Victoria and SA are particularly concerning.

“And where States and Territories are making progress toward better outcomes, without clear jurisdictional targets we cannot know whether this progress is enough,” she said.

Furthermore, significant data gaps remain where progress cannot be assessed.

Commissioner Mokak said we needed data on the Priority Reforms to see if Governments were changing the way they worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to improve outcomes.

“And we also need data to assess progress toward improved outcomes for family violence, community infrastructure, languages and digital inclusion,” he said.

The Annual Data Compilation Report is available on the Productivity Commission’s website and can be accessed at this PS News link.

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