Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australian Government to develop national statement on Social Inclusion

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Acting Prime Minister - Minister for Education - Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations - Minister for Social Inclusion

Today the Australian Social Inclusion Board released its Compendium of Social Inclusion Indicators.

The Social Inclusion Board is an independent body established to provide advice to the Australian Government on ways to achieve better outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our community

To be socially included, Australians must have access to work, social support through family and friends and high-quality basic services like health and education. This enables people to deal successfully with adverse life events like bereavement or loss of a job and be able to make their voice count as citizens and community members.

This report sets out Australian data on a range of key indicators of disadvantage, including access to work and services, social supports, how well local neighbourhoods are faring and health.

It highlights several areas requiring long-term action, including retirement income and homelessness, where the Australian Government is already implementing new initiatives.

In the 2009-10 Budget the most significant reforms to the pension system were announced since it was introduced 100 years ago. These reforms will improve the adequacy of the pension for those who rely on it to survive.

The Australian Government is investing an historic $6.4 billion in social housing, with more than 650 new houses already under construction, and 15,460 essential home repairs and maintenance completed. This investment is key to halving homelessness by 2020.

The Government also believes that the early years are critical for children’s development and for overcoming long-term disadvantage. At COAG on July 2nd Australian Governments agreed on a new Early Years Learning Framework, a long-term vision for services to support early childhood development and a new shared framework to improve the quality of early years education and care.

Australia’s first comprehensive Paid Parental Leave scheme, announced in the 2009-10 Budget, will underpin our investment in children’s early development.

The indicators also point to important ongoing challenges.

This report helps to clarify the nature of those challenges and support collaborative action across the whole community to further the Australian Government’s Social Inclusion agenda. The Government, by the end of 2009, will develop a national statement on Social Inclusion to chart a long-term strategy towards making Australia a stronger, fairer society.

This whole of Government strategy will encompass important measures already underway, such as reducing homelessness, closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and creating jobs and skills in local priority areas where unemployment and disadvantage are concentrated.

Minister Gillard has written to State Social Inclusion Ministers proposing to meet with them to work through further action on social inclusion priorities. Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia, has offered to host the meeting.

Note: since the Australian Social Inclusion Board report went to print, the ABS has produced updated figures on life expectancy for Indigenous Australians and the Productivity Commission has released its report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage. Both of these publications stand as important inputs to ongoing, whole of Government work on these issues.