Billy 'not surprised' at shocking Closing the Gap findings


Media Release

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The Closing the Gap report released this week highlighted the worrying inequality that still exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. IMAGE: Indigenous Health.

INDEPENDENT Member for Cook Billy Gordon is not surprised the Closing the Gap targets are failing and has called for Queensland Government to 'take the lead' on Indigenous reform.

The Federal Government released its ninth report on the National Indigenous Reform Agreement yesterday which again exposed the reality surrounding Indigenous disadvantage in Australia.

The agreement, first introduced in 2008, aimed to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and set initial deadlines for assessments on child mortality, academic performance and employment outcomes for the end of 2017.

The report on Tuesday revealed none of those were likely to be achieved, and that six of the seven key target measures were yet to be reached.

Gordon said the results reconfirmed the need to overcome prejudice and reignite a pathway towards reconciliation.

“Let’s not side-step the issues,” Gordon said.

“I am not taking the spotlight off those commitments, those national targets that we must achieve. This is not the time to fog what Australia said it would achieve, and reduce incarceration of Aboriginals in correctional facilities, and reduce the underlying causes of why such a large number of Indigenous children are being removed from their families.

“Queensland can take the lead to rediscover what the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition said in Federal Parliament, and that is, to practice humility and courage.”

Gordon, who represents a large population of Indigenous Australians in the Cook Electorate, said the message relayed by Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday should resonate with all Australians. He supported the notion about empowering communities and the need for change in Government approaches and attitudes, but said ’we’ve been saying this for decades.’

Both Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten acknowledged racial discrimination and 'patronization' is still a hurdle in the way Indigenous Australians set-out to get health and education services from public and private systems.

“Let’s act together, with courage, to admit that something is lost in translation from the time when top-heavy policy-makers and Government agencies discuss a way forward with Indigenous communities, and the period of implementation and behaviour,” Gordon said.

It has been almost a decade since the National Indigenous Reform Agreement first outlined a strategy intended to reduce the disparity between life expectancy, health, education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Apunipima Cape York Health Council CEO, Cleveland Fagan, said the damning Closing the Gap report highlighted the need for ‘community led and community driven services.’

“We know that mainstream services do not deliver the outcomes we are all looking for,” Fagan said.

“We urge government to work more closely with communities and look at serious reforms to give us a chance to close the health gap between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We urge the government to listen and work with the community who know what is needed for themselves and their families.”

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