Positive change possible despite slow progress to Close the Gap

15 February 2017

The ninth Prime Minister's Closing the Gap Report to Parliament reveals that little has changed in the circumstances facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-See said today.

"Our people are still dying more than a decade before other Australians, too many of our young people are incarcerated or placed in out of home care, too many of our women and children remain vulnerable to violence and too many of our people experience self-harm and mental health problems.

"As the report indicates, progress in addressing this disadvantage has been far too slow." 

However, Cr Ah-See said the nation could take heart from the areas where progress has been made.

"We should applaud the gains that have been made in literacy and numeracy, the numbers of young Aboriginal people completing year 12 and the improvements we are beginning to see in health.

"These improvements show us that positive change is possible - particularly when Aboriginal people ourselves are the drivers of that change.

Cr Ah-See cautioned governments against abandoning the national effort to Close the Gap because of slow progress. 

"This is a generational challenge and we have to keep up the fight because the lives of our children depend on it."

Cr Ah-See welcomed the Prime Minister's determination to build an improved relationship with the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples and acceptance of the Redfern Statement that it developed. 

"As a member of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, I look forward to sitting down with Congress and the other organisations that developed the Redfern Statement to talk about how its call for Indigenous led solutions can be translated into government policy," Cr Ah-See said. 

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Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291