PM must close the knowledge gap on Aboriginal disadvantage

10 February 2016

PM must close the knowledge gap on Aboriginal disadvantage

Federal and State governments need to close the knowledge gap and directly involve Aboriginal people in decision-making if they are serious about closing the gap on disadvantage, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) said today.

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's continued commitment to "closing the gap" but warned progress would only be achieved by increasing Aboriginal participation in decision-making.

The Aboriginal-led Close the Gap Steering Committee has made nine detailed recommendations to Government about how the Closing the Gap strategy can be improved. These include the adoption of targets to reduce imprisonment and violence, improvements in data collection, more action on mental health and increased funding to tackle smoking.

"NSWALC urges the Government to act on what the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in the field are telling it and adopt the Close the Gap Committee's recommendations.

"Aboriginal people must be front and centre of any efforts to close the gap. Policy-makers need to understand the drivers of disadvantage and work in genuine long-term partnership with Aboriginal people to tackle the causes.

"If you don't listen to and involve Aboriginal organisations, efforts to close the gap will not work - you'll only be playing with the lives of Aboriginal people."

Cr Ah-See cautioned 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 - particularly when the going gets tough.

"Government policy makers need to close the knowledge gap if they are serious about making lasting inroads to tackle disadvantage among Aboriginal people in Australia."

Cr Ah-See said the Land Rights network was heartened by Prime Minister Turnbull's decision to visit a Local Aboriginal Land Council last month.