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"We have failed." The 7 key findings of the Closing the Gap report everyone needs to know.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison tabled the annual Closing the Gap report, showing there has been poor progress in improving the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Our government has failed to meet five of the seven targets, with only two “on track”.

So, what is Close the Gap? It was set in 2008 as a bipartisan government campaign to improve the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The targets address the Indigenous disadvantage seen in employment, life expectancy, child mortality and more. The aims were designed to ‘close the gap’ within a generation, by 2030.

In light of the report being released on Wednesday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’ve done it well for early children, we’ve done it well for secondary education … but in all the others we have failed.

“There was great expectation but that hasn’t translated into closure of the gap.”

Side note… Listen to Mamamia’s podcast, Tiddas 4 Tiddas. It features candid conversations with Indigenous women, hosted by Kamilaroi and Dunghutti woman, Marlee Silva. Post continues below.

Here are the seven key findings.

Child Mortality

Target: To halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade by 2018. This has not been met.

Close the Gap finding: In 2018, the Indigenous child mortality rate was 141 per 100,000 – this is twice the rate for non-Indigenous children, which is 67 per 100,000.

what is close the gap
The child mortality rate per 100,000 children. Image: Mamamia.

The Indigenous child mortality rate has improved slightly, however, the rate for non-Indigenous children has improved at a faster rate - meaning the gap has in fact widened since 2008.

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Early Childhood Education

Target: The Government set the aim to have 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025. This is on track.

Close the Gap finding: In 2018, 86.4 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education. This has increased by almost 10 percentage points since 2016.

For non-Indigenous children, 91.3 per cent of four-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education.

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The percentage of four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education. Image: Mamamia.

School Attendance

Target: Aim to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years by 2018. This has not been met.

Close the Gap finding: For Indigenous students, the attendance rate is 82 per cent. For non-Indigenous students, the attendance rate is 97 per cent.

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The school attendance rate in Australia. Image: Mamamia.
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The report also found that gaps in attendance start from the first year of schooling and widen into high school.

Literacy and Numeracy

Target: The Government aimed to halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade by 2018. This has not been met.

Close the Gap finding: In 2018, about one in four Indigenous students in Years 5, 7 and 9, and one in five in Year 3 remained below national minimum standards in reading.

Year 3 literacy rates have seen some improvement.

Year 12 Attainment

Target: The Government aimed to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020. This is on track.

Close the Gap finding: In 2018/19, 66 per cent of Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 years had attained Year 12 or equivalent.

Over the decade, the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 years attaining Year 12 or equivalent has increased by 21 percentage points.

Employment

Target: The government aimed to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade by 2018. This has not been met.

Close the Gap finding: In 2018, the Indigenous employment rate was 49 per cent, compared with 75 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians. This gap has only narrowly changed since 2008.

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The employment rates in Australia. Image: Mamamia.

Life Expectancy

Target: The Government aimed to close the life expectancy gap within a generation by 2031. This is not on track.

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Close the Gap finding: For males, the life expectancy is 71.6 years for Indigenous males and 80.2 years for non-Indigenous males.

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The life expectancy for males in Australia. Image: Mamamia.

For Indigenous females in Australia, life expectancy is 75.6 years, which is 7.8 years less than non-Indigenous females.

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The life expectancy for females in Australia. Image: Mamamia.

While there have been improvements in indigenous mortality rates from heart disease, stroke and hypertension, cancer rates are increasing.


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