Community events mark National Closing the Gap Day
Hundreds of community events will be held across Australia today to mark National Close the Gap Day.
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, congratulated everyone taking part in a community event.
“Today’s events held in schools, workplaces, shopping centres and community parks across the country show how committed Australians are to eliminating Indigenous disadvantage,” Ms Macklin said.
Ms Macklin said unprecedented effort by the Australian Government under the Closing the Gap framework has seen significant progress made towards addressing Indigenous disadvantage.
“For instance, there are now more Indigenous children than ever before with access to preschool or kindergarten programs and the Closing the Gap target that all Indigenous four-year-olds living in remote communities have access to early childhood education by 2013 will be met this year,” Ms Macklin said.
“This means young Indigenous Australians are getting a better start to life and are ready to learn when they get to school.
“The Government is now working to ensure this improved access to early education also leads to improved school attendance, so children continue to build on the great start that a preschool or kindergarten program provides.”
Ms Macklin said the Government has set six ambitious Closing the Gap targets that relate to life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment.
“The Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2013 tabled in Parliament in February shows strong progress being made towards the target of halving the gap for Year 12 attainment,” Ms Macklin said.
The Government’s Indigenous-specific investments include:
- $3.4 billion under the National Partnership Agreement on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory over 10 years until 30 June 2022
- $5.5 billion under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing over 10 years until 30 June 2018
- $805.5 million for the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package over four years until 30 June 2013, as the Australian Government’s contribution to the Council of Australian Government’s $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes
- $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
Mr Snowdon said the Government is committed to Closing the Gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider population.
“The target of halving the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018 is on track to be met,” Mr Snowdon said.
Ms Macklin said the Government is also committed to meaningful constitutional reform that reflects the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Australia moved closer towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the Act of Recognition passing the House of Representatives earlier this year,” Ms Macklin said.
“The Government has committed $10 million towards a campaign being led by Reconciliation Australia to continue to build support for constitutional change.
“We know that Government cannot Close the Gap alone. Closing the Gap requires a genuine partnership with Indigenous Australians and the Government is committed to a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.
“The National Close the Gap Day is an opportunity for Australians to be a part of this collective effort.”
For news, stories and information about Closing the Gap visit Indigenous.gov.au website or join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #ClosingtheGap.