Abo­rig­i­nal life is marked by highs and lows

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - – Sherele Moody

A KEY mea­sure of how Aus­tralia’s in­dige­nous com­mu­nity is far­ing re­veals strong improvements in ed­u­ca­tion, hous­ing and health but lit­tle change in safety, dis­crim­i­na­tion and prison and ar­rest rates.

About 11,200 peo­ple took part in the re­cently re­leased six-yearly Na­tional Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der So­cial Sur­vey.

The Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics sur­vey took 10 months to com­plete and of­fers a broad in­sight into the bar­ri­ers in­dige­nous Aus­tralians face.

ABS se­nior rec­on­cil­i­a­tion cham­pion Dr Paul Jelfs said the re­sults were mixed.

“The data is show­ing there is a strong up­ward trend in ed­u­ca­tion achieve­ments – both in Year 12 com­ple­tion rates and non­school qual­i­fi­ca­tions – along with strong improvements across hous­ing and health,” Dr Jelfs said.

More than half of the sur­vey re­spon­dents rated their lives as eight out of 10 and one third of peo­ple liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas felt their com­mu­nity “was a bet­ter place to live” com­pared to the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

Dr Jelfs said the most wor­ry­ing trends re­lated to prison, crime, vi­o­lence and racism.

Just over one in five Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders had ex­pe­ri­enced or been threat­ened with vi­o­lence – and half of those at­tacks were com­mit­ted by part­ners, for­mer part­ners or fam­ily mem­bers.

Around one in seven peo­ple had been ar­rested and one in 10 re­spon­dents had spent time be­hind bars.

The sur­vey also showed one in three peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enced racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

For­mer Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der So­cial Jus­tice Com­mis­sioner Pro­fes­sor Tom Calma said the first sur­vey was car­ried out in 1994.

“There’s now 20 years of de­tailed data avail­able for us to look at and dis­cuss,” he said.

“We need this in­for­ma­tion to make sure that we are get­ting things right – we need to feel con­fi­dent that our is­sues are ac­cu­rately re­flected in gov­ern­ment poli­cies, pro­grams and ser­vices.”

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

IN­DIGE­NOUS SUR­VEY: An ABS sur­vey shows wor­ry­ing trends re­lat­ing to prison and crime.

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