Supporting the independent education community

Closing the Gap 2018: Time for a new approach


November 2018 will mark 10 years since Australian governments committed to specific targets for reducing inequalities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy, mortality, education and employment As the 10th anniversary of Closing the Gap approaches, only three of the seven national targets is on track and four will expire in 2018.

It is time to do better. It is time for a different approach.

 

Close the Gap campaign

In 2008, the campaign was deemed necessary as Australia had one of the world’s worse life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

 

In response, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Indigenous Reform Agreement. The Reform Agreement outlined two health/medical goals and four educational/employment goals to be achieved in partnership with Indigenous community and health organisations. A further education target related to school attendance rates was added in May 2014.

 

These goals were to:

  • Improve Indigenous life expectancy to the Australian average by 2031;
  • Halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mortality rates;
  • Ensure that 95% of all Indigenous four year olds are enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 (revised goal);
  • Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance by 2018;
  • Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for Indigenous students by 2018;
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates by 2020;and
  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians by 2018.

How are we doing?

The Closing the Gap Report (2018), released in February 2018, shows some progress has been achieved over the past 12 months.

 

At present three targets are on track to being achieved. A summary table follows.
 

Progress Against The Reform Agreement Goals

Target

Target Year

Progress

Results

Close the gap in life expectancy within a generation.

2031

Not on track

There has been no improvement since the 2006 baseline. However, in the longer term (since 1998) Indigenous mortality rates have decreased by 14 per cent.

Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade.

2018

On track

Long-term progress (1998 to 2016) shows the Indigenous child mortality rate has declined by 35 per cent with the gap narrowing by 32 per cent.

Volatility in recent Indigenous child mortality rates means there is uncertainty about the shorter term estimates.

95 per cent of all Indigenous four year olds enrolled in early childhood education.

2025

On track.

In 2016, around 14,700 Indigenous four-year-olds (91%) were enrolled in early childhood education. Five jurisdictions already above 95 per cent.

Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance by 2018.

2018

Not on track

In 2017 the attendance rate for Indigenous students was 83.2 per cent (down from 83.4% in 2016) compared to the attendance rate for non-Indigenous students at 93.0%.

Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for Indigenous students.

2018

Not on track

The report shows that only Year 9 Numeracy is on track to meet the target.

However, NAPLAN 2017 data shows the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students continues to narrow across all NAPLAN areas, particularly in Years 3 and 5 Reading and Years 5 and 9 Numeracy.

Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates.

2020

On track

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 20 – 24 year-olds achieving this standard increased from 47.4% to 65.3% from 2006 to 2016.

Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

2018

Not on track

There has been a decline in Indigenous employment rates since 2008. In 2016, the Indigenous employment rate was 46.6 per cent compared with 71.8 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians.

It is time for a different approach

COAG has acknowledged that it needs to work differently with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and communities in order to identify the priorities that will inform how governments can better design and deliver programs and services to close the gap.

 

COAG is proposing to:

  1. Discuss the principles of the refresh and priority areas
  2. Work together to propose target areas and
  3. Reach agreement on the final targets and actions governments will prioritise .

As such, a discussion paper, Closing the Gap: the next phase has been released and views may be submitted by making a formal submission or by answering the following questions online at https://closingthegaprefresh.pmc.gov.au/node/add/response.

  1. Do you have any general comments?
  2. What does Closing the Gap mean to you?
  3. How can governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and businesses work more effectively together?
  4. How could Closing the Gap targets better measure what is working and what is not?
  5. What indicators should governments focus on to best support the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
  6. Should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture be incorporated in the Closing the Gap framework? How?
  7. What do you think are the key targets or commitments that should be measured in a refreshed Closing the Gap agenda?

Speaking out to close the gap

Submissions to the Closing the Gap: the next phase discussion paper will close at 5pm 31 March 2018.

The IEUA will make a submission to the discussion paper and in order to do so, the IEUA needs to hear from our members.

IEU members are encouraged to consider the discussion questions and contact their IEUA Branch office.

15 March 2018 is national Close the Gap day

  1. Close the Gap Day is an opportunity to call for action on improving the health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

On 15 March 2018, IEU members can join in the National Closing the Gap campaigns by attending one of the rallies around the country.

 

To read more about the Closing the Gap Campaign, and to access school resource packs or to find a rally; click on this link; https://www.oxfam.org.au/get-involved/how-schools-can-get-involved/resources-for-teachers/close-the-gap-student-kit/

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