Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Celebrating Close the Gap Day

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari

Hundreds of events will be staged across the country today to mark National Close the Gap Day.

The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, congratulated all those who were getting involved in community events.

“Today’s events held in schools, workplaces and community halls right across Australia show the strong community support for tacking Indigenous disadvantage,” Ms Macklin said.

Ms Macklin said the Australian Government had set ambitious targets around closing the gap in health, education and employment for Indigenous people.

“We recognise that previous haphazard approaches to ending Indigenous disadvantage were not good enough.

“We also recognise that ending disadvantage caused by decades of underinvestment will take time, which is why we are delivering record investment to close the gap.”

The Government’s investments to close the gap include:

  • $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 COAG’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

Ms Macklin said these investments were beginning to deliver real improvements in the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“The Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report released last month shows that the foundations are now in place to build lasting change across the country.

“It shows we are on track to meet the under-five mortality target, overall Indigenous mortality rates have declined, Indigenous children are doing better at school, and Indigenous Australians are more likely to have a job.”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the wider Australian population was a vitally important part of the Government’s commitment to ending disadvantage.

“We have already seen mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people decline by 36% between 1991 and 2010, a trend we’re working hard to see continue.

“More Aboriginal health workers are being employed across the country, particularly in rural and remote areas and more people are accessing their services. Over 2010-11 almost 50,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult health checks were carried out.

“The Gillard Labor Government will not shy away from the challenges ahead of us in closing the gap, and the work already underway is providing a solid foundation to see the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to improve.”

Ms Macklin said constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians was another significant step towards building a nation based on strong relations and mutual respect, which recognises the unique and special place of our first peoples.

“That’s why we recently announced a $10 million investment to continue to build public awareness and community support.

“We know that ending this unacceptable disadvantage will take time. It will also require a sustained effort by all governments, businesses, not-for-profit organisations, Indigenous Australians and the wider community.

“Close the Gap Day is a chance for all Australians to get involved in this national effort.”