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‘The results are not good enough’: Long way to go in closing the gap


Doug Hendrie


12/02/2020 4:49:35 PM

Only two of seven targets are being met in efforts to close Australia’s healthcare gap – the same result as last year.

Young Indigenous child.
Child mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is twice that of non-Indigenous children.

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.
 
The results show the country is on track to meet only two of seven targets to reduce the disparity in health, education and employment outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

  • Early education – on track
  • Year 12 attainment – on track
  • Child mortality – not on track
  • School attendance – not on track
  • Literacy and numeracy – not on track
  • Employment – not on track  
In releasing the report in parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said things are ‘better than they were ... but we have not made as much progress as we should have by now’.
 
The Prime Minister used the opportunity to announce a new approach to improving health and life expectancy, one that will include a partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
 
‘The results are not good enough,’ he told parliament. ‘Over decades, our top-down, “government knows best” approach has not delivered the improvements we all need.
 
‘Today I make the final report of an old approach, as well as the first report of a new era.’
 
At the launch of the 2019 report, the Prime Minister said the original targets had been ‘set up to fail’ and that the process was too ‘top down’ and called for a new approach. 
 
A major concern is the fact that that child mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is twice that of non-Indigenous children, at 141 per 100,000 versus 67 per 100,000 as of 2018. 
 
The life expectancy gap remains wide, with non-Indigenous men and women living an average 8.6 and 7.8 years more, respectively.
 
The employment gap also remains wide, with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rate at 49% versus 75% for non-Indigenous Australians.
 
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese called for a formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘voice’ in the constitution.
 
‘Enshrining the voice to parliament will be the work of one successful referendum, but ... ensuring the voice speaks in the design and delivery of policy, ensuring the voice advocates the rights and interests of First Nations peoples – that is a task for national political leadership,’ he said.
 
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health closing the gap Indigenous health



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