Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Australia fails to 'close gap' in improving lives of Aborigines

Australia fails to 'close gap' in improving lives of Aborigines

Australia is struggling to meet its targets in four-out-of-seven measures aimed at improving the lives of the aboriginal Australians, including increasing life expectancy and improving literacy, the government's tenth annual "Closing the Gap" report said on Monday.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says the economy is key to closing the gap, and is expected to announce a range of new measures to "turbo-charge" the Indigenous business sector when he delivers the Closing the Gap report in parliament on Monday.

As well, three of the remaining four targets - to halve the gaps in employment, reading and numeracy, and in-school attendance for indigenous students - are due to expire in 2018.

Which targets are on track?

Australia has made some progress in improving the lives of its indigenous people but not in four of seven key areas, an annual report card has found.

The former prime minister pointed out that as opposition leader Mr Turnbull would regularly attack him for apparently being too hostile towards China.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion says despite the lags, there has been "solid progress" in other areas.

A decade ago, Australia embarked on an ambitious roadmap to uplift its indigenous people, who have trailed the rest of the population in nearly every social and economic indicator.

Kevin Rudd's Stolen Generations apology sparked tears in Canberra and throughout Australia when he read it out on February 13, 2008.

"Three of the seven targets are on track this year, giving us the most promising result since 2011". "But in all of them, what you see is either some improvement, significant improvement, or a lot of improvement if not full realisation of the target". "I say to the Prime Minister and the Government - we will work with you, but we will not wait for you".

Mr Shorten has also committed $10 million to a "National Healing Fund" to help the Stolen Generations and their descendants, including support for family reunions and counselling.

Bill Shorten will pledge compensation for those who have slipped through the cracks since the National Apology.

"The most valuable lesson has come from applying advice to do with, not to (indigenous people)".

The scheme would provide survivors in the Northern Territory and the ACT with access to up to $75,000, if Labor is elected.

"It was not just an expression of sorrow or regret but a declaration of intent, a promise for action", he will say in parliament.

The extent of failure was underscored in recent days in a damning report by the independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.

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