Australia still lags to improve lives of its Aborigines

AFP, SYDNEY

Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 6

Australia is making some progress in improving health and education among its indigenous population, an annual report said yesterday, but it is still missing most targets to reduce Aboriginal disadvantage a decade after launching a major campaign.

The 10th Closing the Gap study found authorities were on track to meet just three out of seven targets to help health, education and employment outcomes among Aborigines catch up with the non-indigenous population.

Efforts were showing results in areas such as reducing Aboriginal child mortality and improving rates of high school qualifications, but four other areas, including boosting indigenous employment and life expectancy, were falling behind.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said results were improving, after Australia had been on track to meet just one target the year before.

“Three of the seven targets are on track this year, giving us the most promising result since 2011,” he told parliament.

Aborigines, who make up about 3 percent of the total national population of 25 million, are among the most disadvantaged Australians.

Yesterday’s report — marking a decade since then-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd made a historic apology to Aboriginal people for centuries of injustice — showed the target to halve the gap in child mortality with non-indigenous Australians by this year was on track to be met.

However, overall school attendance goals were not being met and nor was the proportion of indigenous children achieving national minimum standards in reading and numeracy.