Call for real gap ac­tion

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

NOW is the time for the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment to act on clos­ing the gap be­tween in­dige­nous and non­indige­nous Aus­tralia, says the coun­try’s first Abo­rig­i­nal MP in Fed­eral Par­lia­ment.

Speak­ing in Dar­win last night, Western Aus­tralia’s Lib­eral Mem­ber for Hasluck, Ken Wy­att, says that de­spite the $3.5 bil­lion in fund­ing that goes to­wards try­ing to close the gap, out­comes are very poor.

‘‘ It doesn’t mat­ter how much money you pump into Abo­rig­i­nal af­fairs if you don’t have com­mu­nity en­gage­ment,’’ he said, as he de­liv­ered the an­nual ora­tion for the Men­zies School of Health Re­search.

‘‘Time is im­por­tant, be­cause un­less we act, we will see a di­min­ish­ing re­turn on the in­vest­ments we put in.’’

Mr Wy­att warned that the Gov­ern­ment had to move away from pre­vi­ous ap­proaches to fund­ing for Abo­rig­i­nal health and ed­u­ca­tion.

Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple dis­en­gage when they’re told de­ci­sions about their com­mu­ni­ties have been made by Can­berra, or when faced with ser­vice providers who re­ject in­put from com­mu­nity mem­bers, Mr Wy­att said. He called for the Gov­ern­ment to sup­port grass­roots ac­tion with par­ents and el­ders be­ing made equal part­ners in change.

Gov­ern­ment has to make ser­vice providers for in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties ac­count­able for poor out­comes, he said.

Ken Wy­att

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