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Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Delivering services to close the gap

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
  • The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth
  • The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health
  • The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
    The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth
    Senator Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness
    The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health

The Prime Minister today tabled the Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s report 2011 in Parliament.

The Australian Government is delivering improved services in areas including health, education and housing as part of an unprecedented effort to improve life expectancy and opportunities for Indigenous people.

The Government’s record investment is part of our ongoing commitment to closing the gap.

This investment has already delivered more than 300 new Indigenous health workers, built more than 480 houses in remote areas, and supported 3500 Indigenous young people at risk of not completing Year 12 through programs designed to get them back to school or take up training.

Closing the gap is a national goal, which requires the Australian Government to work in partnership with the state and territory governments, businesses, not for profit organisations, Indigenous people and the wider community.

The Government recognises that ending the disadvantage caused by decades of underinvestment will take time.

Our unprecedented investments are beginning to change the lives of Indigenous people by delivering improved services, better houses and healthier communities, but a sustained effort is required.

The Government is leading a national effort in partnership with the states and territories. We are investing in mainstream and Indigenous specific initiatives to close the gap. Indigenous specific initiatives include:

  • $5.5 billion under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing over ten years until 30 June 2018.
  • $1.57 billion under the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes over four years until 30 June 2013.
  • $564.4 million under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development over six years until 30 June 2014.
  • $228.9 million under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation over five years until 30 June 2013.
  • $291.2 million under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery over six years until 30 June 2014.

The Government is working with Indigenous people to support personal responsibility as the foundation for healthy, functional families and communities. Closing the gap requires a genuine partnership with Indigenous Australians at all levels. The Government is committed to a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.  

The Government is concentrating its investment across the seven building blocks of closing the gap.

Investing in early childhood

In 2010 around 14,700 Indigenous adults and children visited one of the 45 Communities for Children services sites to receive assistance with early learning and literacy, parenting and family support and child nutrition. 

Ten new child and maternal health services to help up to 11,000 Indigenous babies and their mothers will be established over five years. Two of these services have already commenced in Warburton, Western Australia and Ceduna, South Australia.

Investing in schooling

$89.8 million for school projects, such as building new classrooms, science centres and libraries, in the 29 Remote Service Delivery communities across Australia.

More than 3500 Indigenous young people who had been or were at risk of leaving school were personally helped under the Youth Connections program in 2010. This helps young people to stay at school, get back to school or take up training, complete a Year 12 or equivalent qualification and achieve their goals.

Investing in health

The $805.5 million Indigenous Chronic Disease package has created more than 300 new Indigenous health worker positions, as well as tackling chronic disease risk factors and better managing chronic conditions and care.

Investing in healthy homes

An unprecedented $5.5 billion over ten years has been invested through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.

Under the National Partnership more than 480 new houses and 1750 rebuilds and refurbishments have been built across the country. New and refurbished dwellings are now subject to new tenancy agreements, which help tenants transition to rental arrangements in line with other public housing, and ensure regular repairs and maintenance.

Investing in safe communities

Three permanent police stations have been constructed at Mimili, Amata and Pukatja in the APY Lands in South Australia, giving the communities a permanent police presence for the first time.

Forty-five additional Northern Territory Police recruits have completed training and graduated since 2009. A further 15 recruits are expected to graduate in April 2011.

Under the Northern Territory Emergency Response, there are now 22 safe places in 17 communities across the Northern Territory. Safe places provided shelter for 491 women, 399 children and 40 men between January 2009 and November 2010.

Investing in economic participation

More than 16,000 Indigenous Australians started employment and around 12,500 began training in 2010 with support from the Indigenous Employment Program. 

Investing in governance and leadership

The newly established National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples provides a central mechanism with which Government, the corporate and community sector can engage and partner on policy design and implementation with Indigenous people. The Australian Government has provided $22.9 million to establish and run the Congress.

A copy of the report is available at