Latest round of Closing the Gap data shows ‘disappointing’ progress for Indigenous Australians with four of 17 targets on track

New data from the productivity commission has shown only four of the 17 targets under the national Closing the Gap agreement are on track to be met.

The national agreement is a plan to improve the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians over the next decade.

Modest improvements have been recorded for life outcomes for children, healthy birth weights, school attendance and lowering youth detention, and there has been some improvement on sea country rights, but the target is still not on track to be met.

The data shows the gap is worsening across adult imprisonment rates, deaths by suicide, out of home care rates, and children being developmentally ready once they reach school age.

‘Incredibly disturbing’

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney says the results are ‘disappointing’.

“It’s incredibly disturbing to see that a number of Closing the Gap targets are not on track,” she said.

Tight close-up of Linda Burney MP, not smiling.
Linda Burney says the results are disappointing. (ABC News: Mark Moore)

“The Closing the Gap architecture can only work when all parties are invested and there is a coordinated effort from all jurisdictions in partnership with First Nations peoples.

“I am keen to understand more about how the Priority Reforms are being implemented across the country.” she said.

The priority reform areas cover partnerships between government and Indigenous communities, building capacity for community-controlled organisations across health, law and justice, transforming government organisations to be culturally safe and responsive, and increase data collection and sharing.

The government is committed to working alongside state ministers and the Coalition of the Peaks to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

A meeting of the joint council on Closing the Gap will be held in Adelaide at the end of August.

Funding boost to conserve culture

The government has announced a multimillion-dollar funding boost to help safeguard Indigenous culture and languages.

Indigenous languages and cultures being strong and supported is one of the targets under the Closing the Gap agreement, with data showing around 123 Indigenous languages were being spoken in 2018-19.

Over the next three years the government will invest $57 million across more than 80 community activity and language programs, with a view to increase the number of languages being spoken and preserve culture across the country.

Minister Burney says language is a key part of Indigenous identity.

“Speaking languages and embracing artistic expression empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to connect to Country and community which is crucial for our being,”

$41 million will go to First Languages Australia, the national peak body for teaching, preserving and documenting Indigenous languages across the country.

The remainder of the funding will be divided across cultural preservation, targeted language teaching and learning and developing digital language databases and community workshops.