Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed has called on the Federal Government to increase efforts towards reducing inequalities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
Following the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report, Mr Mohamed has urged the Government to listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and support the recommendations in the Close the Gap campaign’s shadow report.
“Today’s reports clearly show that we cannot take our foot off the accelerator and we need comprehensive and considered approaches to a wide range of issues,” Mr Mohamed said.
“Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage is complex. It is the result of decades of discrimination and neglect, and it will take nuanced and sustained effort from all sectors of Australian society to overcome,” he said.
“The Federal Government has an important role in leading the way through continued investment and prioritising the Closing the Gaps targets.
“We need to take inspiration from the gains we have made and increase our efforts in areas that have stagnated. The improvements we see in infant mortality and early childhood education are proof that progress can be made and that investment today pays off down the track,” Mr Mohamed said.
“We have seen the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector lead the way—not only in outcomes but also as one of the largest employers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The solutions to the education, employment and incarceration challenges we face today lie in working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.
Mr Mohamed emphasised that the uncertainty created by recent budget cuts and rapid changes to funding arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations is an impediment to progress which we cannot afford and echoed calls for no further cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs programs in the upcoming budget.
“The Government’s report is a transparent and frank assessment of the current situation. It shows we need strategic approaches developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and accompanied by sustained investment,” Mr Mohamed said.
“Heeding the recommendations of the Close the Gap Steering Committee is a tangible way the Government can demonstrate it is listening to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“We still have a long way to go but by working together to ensure the First Australians have the same life opportunities as all other Australians, we will be able to achieve our vision of a reconciled, just and equitable Australia,” he said.