February 14, 2017
Upon today’s release of the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report, Reconciliation Australia reaffirms our support of the Redfern Statement. The Closing the Gap report identifies areas of progress, but both the Report and the Redfern Statement show there are remaining barriers that must be addressed in order to progress reconciliation.
“What we don’t see today in the Closing the Gap report is the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations have experienced major uncertainty over the past several years, which inhibits ability to plan for the medium to long term outlook,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed.
“Today’s Closing the Gap report indicates that we have made positive progress in some areas, such as year 12 attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. These areas of progress come at an unstable time in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, with ongoing threats to weaken the RDA, over $500 million removed from the Indigenous Affairs budget in 2014, and no clear funding strategy for the National Congress of Australia’s First People.”
“If these positive gains can be achieved in an environment of uncertainty, imagine how much progress we would see with resourcing beyond one to three year funding cycles. Organisations and communities would be able to conduct their vital work in an environment of certainty,” said Mr. Mohamed.
Last week Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Barometer revealed that racism is a constant lived reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—in interactions with service providers, schools, and in the workplace. This reality proves the absolute need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to be supported in providing culturally safe health, education and justice essential services. Without these organisations, there is little hope of achieving the 2030 aspirational target to close the gap.
Mr. Mohamed continued, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have the answers, they have been leading the way. Governments need to improve how they work and listen. New approaches to closing the gap are needed.
“The goodwill is there, but we need to be committed to harnessing it. The Redfern Statement provides an action plan designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. It is a blueprint for structured change; a blueprint to work for, and with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies who know their communities.”
Mr Mohamed stated, “Now is the time for governments to work in true collaboration, to renew investments and agreements in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to action evidence in a strategic approach.”
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Name: Elizabeth Campbell
Phone: 0458 722 608