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Latest data shows majority of Closing the Gap targets not on track, and some gaps getting worse

Giovanni Torre -

The latest data from the Productivity Commission shows a number of key Closing the Gap targets are not on track to be met.

In at least one category,
healthy birthweights for babies, progress has reversed, with the target shifting from being on track to "not on track" in the updated data.

The Commission's new data shows two targets on track and nine not meeting their targets. Combined with existing data there are four targets progressing to plan and 11 that are not on track.

On Wednesday the federal government acknowledged that the gap is not closing fast enough and that on some measures the gap is widening.

"Every level of government needs to redouble its efforts to improve outcomes for First Nations peoples across a range of targets," the government said in a joint ministerial statement.

In one bright spot, the new Commission data does show increases in the employment target as well as land mass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests.

Minister for Indigenous Australian Linda Burney said
Closing the Gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people "and the wider Australian community is a top priority for the Albanese Labor Government".

“The gap is not closing fast enough. I know many people are frustrated by the lack of progress," she said.

“It is particularly disappointing to see the target for healthy birthweights for babies has gone from being ‘on track’ to ‘not on track’. More of the same isn’t good enough. We need to do things differently by working in partnership with communities to get better results.

“The Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, launched last month, sets a clear path forward for how we plan to achieve the targets and priority reforms set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap."

Ms Burney said the government will
continue to work in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks and state and territory governments "and eventually a Voice" to address these results.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health, M
alarndirri McCarthy, said it is important to closely monitor new data to ensure the government and partners can respond effectively to "challenges facing First Nations communities".

“The latest data on Closing the Gap progress is not good enough and our government is making significant changes in the delivery of First Nations policy and support for communities to get ahead," she said.

“As we progress our priorities on better health, housing, education and jobs, we will begin to see more First Nations Australians achieving their full potential.

“Every Australian deserves to live a long, healthy and happy life. Our government will work every day to close the profound, unacceptable gap that exists in this country."

The latest data follows last month’s release of the 2023 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

The new Implementation Plan invests more than $400 million in additional funding to Closing the Gap.

New measures in the 2023 Implementation Plan include:
$150 million over four years to support First Nations water infrastructure and provide safe and reliable water for remote and regional Indigenous communities through the National Water Grid Fund. This will be targeted at communities that currently do not have access to clean drinking water; $111.7 million Commonwealth contribution to a new one-year partnership with the Northern Territory Government to accelerate building of new remote housing, targeted at addressing the worst over-crowding; and $11.8 million over two years for the National Strategy for Food Security in remote First Nations communities. This is about making essential food more affordable and accessible in remote communities.

The plan highlights the importance of partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.


NINE TARGETS HAVE NEW DATA UPDATED MARCH 2023:

TARGETS NOT ON TRACK

·       Target 2 – By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies with a healthy birthweight to 91 per cent, is improving, but not on track. 

·       Target 5 – By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (age 20-24) attaining year 12 or equivalent qualification to 96 per cent, is improving, but not on track.

·       Target 6 – By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-34 years who have completed a tertiary qualification (Certificate III and above) to 70 per cent, is improving, but not on track.

·       Target 7 – By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15-24 years) who are in employment, education or training to 67 per cent, is improving, but not on track.

·       Target 9A – By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) housing to 88 per cent, is improving, but not on track.

·       Target 14 – Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards zero, is not on track and worsening.

·       Target 15B - By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in sea covered by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests, is improving, but not on track.

TARGETS ON TRACK

·       Target 8 - By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 who are employed to 62 per cent, is improving and on track.

·       Target 15A - By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in land mass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests, is improving and on track

 

 

 

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