The gap isn't closing. Far from it.

Tuesday was a momentous day in Australian history - the anniversary of the national apology to the Stolen Generations.

It's been 16 years since that apology, and 16 years since a list of targets was created - designed to ensure a better quality of life for Indigenous Australians. This report is called Closing The Gap.

Every year, the federal government hands down an update on the 19 socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as listed in that report. 16 years on - just four out of 19 outcomes are on track to meet their targets by 2031.

It's not good enough. And it never has been.

Watch: Kevin Rudd's apology to The Stolen Generations. Post continues below.

Video via Network 10.

In his speech in Parliament yesterday when tabling the updated report, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it should give us pause that outcomes have worsened for these critical targets.

"Australians want to close the gap. Australians believe in the fair go. Australia has overcome much, but the gaps persist, including the life expectancy gap that gapes between us like a chasm. That is inexcusable," Albanese said.


"[The statement of the heart at] Uluru was an invitation born of grace. But grace is not a bottomless well. And we cannot ask for infinite patience. We all agree that the status quo is unacceptable."

Yes, some of the targets are on track and others have improved. That's to be celebrated and used as encouragement to keep pushing for progress. But that doesn't change the current situation.

The cold, hard statistics are as follows.

An Indigenous male is more likely to go to jail than to university.

There's also been an increase in the number of Indigenous adults going to prison.

The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is still large - with an 8.6-year gap for males, and a 7.8-year gap for females. 

There is a rheumatic heart disease rate among the Indigenous population that is 100 times the average in this country.

A percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are still being born under a healthy birth weight. 

First Nations kids are 10.5 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.

Devastatingly, suicide accounted for the deaths of 27 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children last year.


Also among kids, there has been a decrease in the proportion of Indigenous children assessed as being developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census.

First Nations women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised due to violence than non-Indigenous women and six times more likely to die because of family violence.

"So where to from here?" is often the question asked. Sadly though, the answer is complicated.

Yes, in his speech Albanese announced new programs and funding, which is always welcomed. But whether we see a tangible impact from it and whether it closes the gap - time will tell. 

Progress can feel stagnated, particularly after the failed referendum result that aimed to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a Voice enshrined in the nation's Constitution.

As proud Wiradjuri man James Blackwell wrote in The Conversation this week, the Voice proposal would have given Indigenous peoples across this country a much greater say in the decisions that affect them, and given them more control over their own affairs and in their own communities. 

"It's unsurprising that in this year's Closing the Gap report, the government outlines that just four of the 19 targets are on track to be bridged. Government is continuing to fail our communities. And we all had a chance to fix it," he explained. 


"Governments need to prioritise Indigenous peoples and communities in decision-making. That means meaningful transformation, capacity-building, and genuine co-design, not half-hearted 'consultation' on policies for which the government merely wants consent."

As Briggs - an actor, rapper, activist and proud Yorta Yorta man - told Mamamia's news podcast The Quicky recently: "We want to work towards a more unified country and more unified society, and better outcomes not just for Blackfellas but for everybody. Everyone benefits when the collective is winning. This isn't about us and them, and Black and white. This is about what we want to present to the world about our nation."

Arrernte man William Tilmouth, who chairs First Nations not-for-profit Children's Ground, and other Indigenous leaders told AAP they want all governments to rethink the way they do business with First Nations people, communities and organisations.

Because when our leaders say sorry - not only to the Stolen Generations but to all Indigenous people - it isn't enough. Sorry means behaviour isn't repeated, that change is secured. If we want to close the gap, we have to listen to people who are directly impacted and provide them with self-determination. 

As Albanese noted, the price of failure - across successive governments - isn't just counted in dollars. It's measured in lives.

Feature Image: Getty.