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Report into Indigenous disadvantage shows change is possible

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

A Productivity Commission report on Indigenous disadvantage, released today, provides hard evidence of both the successes and failures of initiatives to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and the Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Kirstie Parker, said the 2014 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage (OID) report shows some positive trends, with improvements in health, education and economic outcomes.

“The report provides essential evidence for Government and for policy-makers,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“The evidence of improved life expectancy, significant reductions in child mortality rates and reductions in health risk behaviours during pregnancy show that generational change is possible.

“But the report’s results in areas such as justice and mental health continue to cause concern,” Commissioner Gooda said.

Ms Parker noted that the negative outcomes for mental health and justice demonstrate the difficult, long-term nature of the challenges faced by the Close the Gap Campaign.

“However, we don’t want to be stuck in a narrative of failure,” Ms Parker said.

“It is true more needs to be done but dismissing the gains that are being made will undermine the national effort to close the gap.”

Ms Parker and Commissioner Gooda, as Co-Chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, today called on the Federal Government to demonstrate leadership and drive the national Close the Gap strategy forward by forging a national, coordinated response with the states and territories.

“We welcome the Government’s work to close the gap by implementing a national health plan,” Ms Parker and Commissioner Gooda said.

The OID report shows that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • Economic outcomes have improved, with higher incomes, lower reliance on income support, increased home ownership, and higher rates of full time and professional employment.
  • Life expectancy has improved and child mortality rates have fallen. However, rates of disability and chronic disease remain high, mental health outcomes have not improved, and hospitalisation rates for self-harm have increased
  • Justice outcomes continue to decline, with adult imprisonment rates worsening and no change in high rates of juvenile detention and family and community violence.

The OID report is produced by the Review of Government Service Provision. It is overseen by a steering committee of senior officials from the Federal, state and territory governments.