The Productivity Commission (PC) has released a report of the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, finding mixed outcomes for First Nations People in the past four years.
Chair of the PC, Michael Brennan said the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report measured where things had improved (or not) against 52 indicators across a range of areas including governance, leadership and culture, early childhood, education, economic participation, health, home environment and safe and supportive communities.
Mr Brennan said the Report was produced in consultation with all Australian Governments, the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations
“Four years on from the previous Report there continues to be improvement in many areas of early child development, economic participation and some aspects of health and education,” Mr Brennan said.
“But areas such as justice and mental health remain concerning, with increases in the rates of imprisonment, suicide and self-harm,” he said.
“If change is to occur these outcomes need to be understood in context; recognising the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that contribute to their wellbeing, as well as the structural and systemic barriers that can undermine or erode their wellbeing.”
Mr Brennan said poorer outcomes were not due to people being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander but could be attributed to the additional personal challenges and structural barriers faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
He said policies and programs may appear neutral on the surface but could operate in an uneven or unfair manner that was detrimental to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Removing these structural barriers is critical if the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is to improve,” he said.
“Shared decision-making — the focus of the case studies in this Report — is a common element in approaches that appear successful in improving outcomes.”
Mr Brennan said with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in place, the Report could assist people in policy and program design and delivery, and should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Commission’s 4,160-page Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report can be accessed at this PS News link.