Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Indigenous unemployment and home ownership improving

The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today said he welcomes the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators, 2007 Report.

"I congratulate the Productivity Commission for producing another comprehensive and objective report. As well as providing useful data it includes real life examples of successful approaches to Indigenous Affairs."

Minister Brough said the Government would closely examine the findings from the report, but he was encouraged by the fact far more Indigenous Australians were finding work. The report showed the national Indigenous unemployment rate fell from 30 per cent in 1994 to 13 per cent in 2004-05.

"While this level of Indigenous unemployment is still too high and above that for the rest of Australia, it shows significant progress is being made and the Howard Government’s welfare reforms and strong economic policies can be expected to reduce the rate further," Mr Brough said.

"I am heartened by the fact that the infant mortality rates have decreased as well as number of Indigenous children aged 0-14 years admitted to hospital for diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.

"There are more Indigenous people living in homes owned or being purchased by a member of the household over that same period."

Mr Brough said although there were a lot of positives in the report, there were other areas of great concern.

"Indigenous people are 10 times more likely than other Australians to suffer from kidney disease.

"Indigenous children are nearly four times more likely than other Australian children to be subject to abuse or neglect.

"Another worrying aspect is that Indigenous youth are 23 times more likely to be detained by authorities than non-Indigenous youth."

Mr Brough said the reporting of these figures came from a commitment in 2003 at a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

"In April this year, COAG reaffirmed its commitment to close the gap between Indigenous people and other Australians over a generation," Mr Brough said.

"The Howard Government is working closely with the States and Territories so we together can overcome the issues that lead to Indigenous disadvantage.

"While the findings show good progress has been made in some areas, much more needs to be done. We need to roll our sleeves up and get on with the job of improving the lives of Indigenous Australians."