Gap remains open
The ninth ‘Closing the Gap’ report card regarding inequity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians shows that ‘changes are underway and successes are being achieved; however, progress overall nationally, is too slow’.
Specific areas of concern include health, education and employment.
Community safety remains a priority for all governments, regarding reduction of violence, substance abuse and harm, preventing crime and supporting victims, particularly women and children. The rates of family and domestic violence for Indigenous women far outweigh that of their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Specific targets identified as not being on track include: the target to halve the gap in child mortality by 2018; the target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031; the target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students by 2018; the target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 .
‘The importance of culture cannot be underestimated in working to close the gap,’ the report states. ‘The connection to land, family and culture is fundamental to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up three per cent of Australia’s population with almost 80 per cent living in regional and metropolitan areas. While only 14 per cent of Indigenous Australians live in very remote areas, they make up 45 per cent of Australians living in these areas.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the world’s oldest continuous cultures—they have stood the test of time. We must continue to preserve and respect Indigenous cultures for this generation and the future and we must acknowledge the impact of past policies on our First Australians, and work to heal the wounds of the past.’
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