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Progress report: Closing the Gap

2 min read

This second of its kind, the report fulfils the Prime Minister’s pledge in his Apology speech on 13 February 2008 to table an annual report to Parliament with details of the progress made in closing the gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australians.

The pledge to ‘close the gap’ encompasses six targets:

  • To close the life expectancy gap within a generation
  • To halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade
  • To ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities within five years
  • To halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children within a decade
  • To halve the gap for Indigenous students to achieve Year 12 attainment or equivalent by 2020
  • To halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.

The Prime Minister commented briefly on each of the six targets referred to in the report, including the progress made in each over the past two years, the importance of the six targets to closing the gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australians, and new funding initiatives to help achieve these targets.

One initiative was the announcement of funding of $9.1 million over three years for ten new mothers and babies services. These new services are in addition to the 43 already funded under the New Directions program. This program gives Indigenous babies and their mothers better access to:

  • Pre and post pregnancy care
  • Standard information about baby care
  • Practical advice and assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting
  • Monitoring of developmental milestones, immunisation status and infections
  • Health checks and referrals for treatment for Indigenous children before starting school.

Justin Mohamed, Chair of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), said that this initiative is a further step forward in closing the life expectancy gap.

“This is welcome recognition by the Rudd Government of the further valuable work NACCHO can do when better resourced to meet the level of need in our communities.”

“While we welcome the rollout of programs such as New Directions to assist services to care for mothers and babies what we need ultimately is to be involved at the table when setting priorities, and developing solutions, in equal partnership with governments, if we are to close the gap,” said Mohamed.

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