Closing the Gap full report: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull releases complete report, only one of seven targets met by 2017

Report review: Pius X Aboriginal Corporation program officer Ray Dennison scrolls through the latest Close the Gap report in Moree on Tuesday.
Report review: Pius X Aboriginal Corporation program officer Ray Dennison scrolls through the latest Close the Gap report in Moree on Tuesday.

THIS year’s Closing the Gap report, released yesterday, has come as a shock to many.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented the annual report to Parliament, revealing only one of the seven targets set a decade ago were on track.

Findings released by the Australian Government, February 2017

Child mortality rates and closing the overall life expectancy gaps were not on track, along with enrolling indigenous four-year-olds into early education and employment outcomes.

Pius X Aboriginal Corporation program officer Ray Dennison applauded the education system and young Aboriginal people for leading the way.

“The goal to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 is on track, so all those Aboriginal students who achieved their HSC or equivalent need to be recognised,” he said.

The target to halve the gap for indigenous reading, writing and numeracy by 2018 was not on track, but within reach. 

There were significant improvements in Year 3 and 5 reading and Year 5 and 9 numeracy.

“At a local level I think the two targets of health and education are advancing and as they grow with momentum they should pull the other targets to an acceptable outcome” he said.

The report outlined a nine per cent decline in smoking rates for indigenous people aged 15 or over between 2002 and 2014-15.

“This is what I’ve seen in our community Aboriginal people have given up smoking and taken on a healthy lifestyle along with other Australian’s who’ve thrown away the cigarettes with the help of resources and support groups,” he said.

Mr Dennison described the housing issue as a stalemate. 

“You can build as many houses as you like but it means nothing if the residents don’t have living skills, budgeting and social skills.”

“Turnbull alluded to a ‘refresh’ of Close the Gap exercises and I think this is a good idea but you need to go out to where the problems are and work from the ground up.”

He said Tony Abbott’s idea to spend one week a year in an Aboriginal community was a good idea with proper commitment.

“I read a quote from the Audit Office’s review of Indigenous Affairs Strategy that found policy had been poorly conceived and hastily implemented.”

He highlighted another important quote from the Prime Minister who said “every Prime Minister is a Prime Minister for indigenous affairs. Every minister should have in their minds how programs are affecting, supporting, promoting indigenous Australians,” Turnbull said. 

Locally, Pius plan to continue targeting government with “hat in hand” for resources, funding and the rights to consultation on policy.

“On March 16 the Moree community will celebrate Close the Gap Day by bringing organisations together for promotion of their services,” he said.