Reconciliation Australia has welcomed progress in improvements to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Productivity Commission’s report into Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2014 has found notable improvements across a range of spectrums, including life expectancy, child mortality, school completion and employment rates.
Reconciliation Australia CEO, Justin Mohamed, says “where concerted efforts are being made we are starting to see the results of the long term, sustainable approaches required to make a difference.”
However, he cautioned that progress in key areas “was not a reason to take the foot off the accelerator.”
Of particular concern were the incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which increased as did the proportion of adults reporting psychological distress and intentional self-harm.
“The findings related to mental health and incarceration are particularly concerning but not new,” Mr Mohamed said.
“What is clear from the report is that in order to make progress in these areas is that leadership and involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is essential,” he said.
“When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to take the lead anything is possible.”
The OID report reflects feedback from First Australians and organisations which Mr Mohamed says is a positive example of effective consultation and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The recent Indigenous Governance Awards highlighted great examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations making their mark and achieving success on their own,” Mr Mohamed said.
“If we are to continue building trust and relationships that will enhance the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians we must see more cooperative approaches with tangible outcomes between First Australians, government, business and the community sector.
“Reconciliation Action Plans are a positive and demonstrable way of breaking down barriers and the new OID indicators relating to valuing Indigenous culture are an encouraging development and further evidence that the journey to reconciling Australia is working,” he said.