Forrest plea to close indigenous gap
Andrew Forrest wants an Operation Sovereign Borders-style approach to addressing indigenous disadvantage after it was revealed national efforts to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians were falling drastically short.
Tabling the ninth annual Closing the Gap report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conceded not enough progress had been made.
Just one of the seven Closing the Gap targets set by the Council of Australian Governments is on track to be met.
Halving the gap in indigenous child mortality rates within a decade has joined the list of failing objectives, while efforts to improve life expectancy, employment, reading and writing results, school attendance and early education outcomes must be stepped up to have any hope of meeting their goals. The report shows WA’s indigenous child mortality rate is more than three times higher than for non-indigenous children.
Halving the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 was the only target on track to be achieved. “We must redouble our efforts to reduce smoking rates during pregnancy, continue to improve immunisation rates, lift rates of antenatal care, reduce foetal trauma, and keep our children safe,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament.
Mr Forrest, WA’s nominee for Australian of the Year, warned more lives and money would be wasted unless the Government adopted a bold new approach such as that laid out in his Creating Parity report on overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage. “We spend $12 billion on indigenous affairs,” Mr Forrest said.
“You would have to ask, after that report, where is it all going?
“How much misery do we have to stomach before we choose a totally different direction and create the executive governance required to implement the resolutions of Creating Parity — not just leave it to the departments to do their best.”