Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Inroads made in Closing the Gap and achieving Constitutional recognition

Joint Media Release with:

  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced $10 million funding to continue to build public awareness and community support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Constitutional recognition is a significant step towards recognising the unique and special place of our first peoples.

The Gillard Government is committed to building momentum for change. We know the support of the majority of Australians will be crucial for a successful referendum.

This important work will be led by Reconciliation Australia, supported by a reference group of business and community groups, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the National Congress of Australia’s First People and members of the Expert Panel.

The funding will allow Reconciliation Australia to support community groups and activities aimed at giving Australians the opportunity to learn more about constitutional recognition.

Inroads are also being made in tackling Indigenous disadvantage, as outlined in the 2012 Closing the Gap Report, which will be tabled by the Prime Minister in Parliament today.

The Closing the Gap report shows that the foundations are now in place to build lasting change across the country. Progress made so far, as outlined in year’s report, include:

  • We are on track to meet the under-five mortality target with a continued decline in mortality rates for Indigenous children – falling by 48 per cent from 1991 to 2010 across the three jurisdictions in which long-term comparison is possible (Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory).
  • Overall Indigenous mortality rates have declined by 36 per cent from 1991 to 2010 in the three jurisdictions for which reliable data are available for this period (Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory).
  • Indigenous children are doing better at school including strong improvements in National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results for Indigenous students. In seven of the eight areas in which we can assess progress at the national level, the gap with non-Indigenous students narrowed from 2008 to 2011.

The Gillard Government is working with Indigenous people to improve services in areas such as health, education and housing, as part of an unprecedented effort to improve life expectancy and opportunities for Indigenous people.

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.