Successful Voice will help with Closing the Gap: Burney

Linda Burney says every death in custody is a "heartbreaking tragedy for families and communities".

Linda Burney says every death in custody is a "heartbreaking tragedy for families and communities". Photo: AAP

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney knows the latest figures on Closing the Gap show there’s a long way to go.

But she believes a successful referendum on a First Nations voice is the way to turn that around.

“The latest Closing the Gap data shows once again that the status quo is not working,” Ms Burney said.

“More of the same isn’t good enough, we have to do things differently.

“An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice can help us close the gap, because it’s only by listening to communities that we can make better policies that lead to better outcomes.”

Closing the Gap began in response to a call for governments to commit to achieving equality for Indigenous people in health and life expectancy within a generation.

It has since evolved in partnership with First Nations people and organisations to include a range of measurable health, social, cultural and educational targets.

Data released by the Productivity Commission on Thursday includes updates on four of the 19 Closing the Gap targets, showing two targets as ‘on track’ and two ‘not on track’.

There has been progress made in the number of First Nations children enrolled in preschool and there are fewer Indigenous youth in detention.

But the data shows the targets to reduce the number of Indigenous adults in prison and children in out of home care are not on track – and are actually getting worse.

Overall it remains just four of the Closing the Gap targets are ‘on track’, 11 targets are ‘not on track’, and four targets can’t assess a trend.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians Malarndirri McCarthy said the lack of progress was frustrating.

“Significant investment has been made in initiatives for Indigenous Australians in our first year of government including in health, housing and education,” she said.

“But there is still a long road ahead to Closing the Gap in true partnership with Indigenous communities to improve outcomes today and for future generations.”

Ms Burney said a First Nations voice would empower communities and enable better policy decisions.

“The gap is not closing fast enough,” she said.

“For too long governments have made policies for Indigenous Australians, not with Indigenous Australians.

“The voice will create structural change that will ensure that grassroots voices are heard in Canberra.”

The proportion of Indigenous young people finishing Year 12 or equivalent is increasing but not on track to meet the target of 96 per cent by 2031.

In 2021, 68.1 per cent of Indigenous people aged 20-24 years had attained a Year 12 or equivalent qualification, up from 63.2 per cent in 2016.

The figures on tertiary education, employment and training are all improving.


Topics: Voice
Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.