Thu, Feb 13, 2020 - Page 5 News List

Australian government will replace ‘failing’ Aboriginal policies: Morrison

Reuters, SYDNEY

Australia is on track to meet just two of its targets aimed at improving the lives of Aborigines, including increasing life expectancy and improving literacy, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

In 2007, Australia introduced seven targets designed to address inequalities that see the country’s 700,000 Aborigines track near the bottom of its 25 million citizens in almost every economic and social indicator.

However, Morrison said that the government’s policy is failing and would be replaced.

“We perpetuated an ingrained way of thinking passed down over two centuries and more, and it was the belief that we knew better than our indigenous peoples. We don’t,” Morrison told parliament.

“We also thought we understood their problems better than they did. We don’t. They live them. We must see the gap we wish to close, not from our viewpoints, but from the viewpoint of indigenous Australians,” he said.

Morrison said new Aboriginal polices would be designed following consultation with the country’s Aborigines, with whom Australia has struggled to reconcile following hundreds of years of brutal segregation.

Aborigines arrived on the continent at least 50,000 years before British colonists, but are not recognized in the country’s constitution.

According to the annual report, literacy rates for Aboriginal students are 20 percent behind the national benchmark and child mortality is more than double that for non-Aboriginal children, while unemployment in the Aboriginal population is more than 25 percent higher than the rest of the country.

“There is more than just a gap, it is a chasm, a gaping wound on the soul of our nation,” said Pat Turner, chief executive officer at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

“Collectively, we need to call this out, be truthful about the failure of governments and how we got here, so that we can chart a new and honest way forward,” Turner said.

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