Reconciliation Australia calls for renewed commitment to Close the Gap framework

Reconciliation Australia welcomes today’s release of the Progress and Priorities Report 2016 by the Close the Gap Campaign and the Federal Government’s eighth annual Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage report.

While encouraged by achievements in key areas, Reconciliation Australia renews its calls for policy-makers and all sectors of the community to recommit to the Closing the Gap framework.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed said “we believe we must redouble our efforts rather than change course if we are to meet these targets.

“If we are to make Closing the Gap a reality, these efforts must be led and guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The State of Reconciliation in Australia, a landmark report launched by Reconciliation Australia yesterday, also explicitly called for renewed commitment from all Australian governments to Closing the Gap.

Reconciliation Australia is encouraged by some gains in key areas. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students completing high school (year 12 attainment) is up to 58.5 per cent, from 45 per cent in 2008.

Along with reductions in infant mortality rates, these are early positive signs of progress.

“It remains a national travesty that despite ongoing efforts to Close the Gap, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians die on average some 10 years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians – often from chronic and preventable diseases.

Targeted and concerted efforts are necessary to improve employment—an area in which little progress has been made against the target since 2008.”

Numeracy and literacy in schools are also in need of focused attention as they remain well below the national average, as do school attendance levels.

Further improvements in health, education and employment outcomes will only be achieved in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with policies undertaken in a spirit of mutual trust and respect.

Reconciliation Australia joins with its Close the Gap coalition partners in reaffirming the importance of evidence-led, consistent policy positions from government.

“We wholeheartedly support to the Prime Minister’s statements that these partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians must be based on mutual trust and respect,” Mr Mohamed said.

“We also welcome the Prime Minister’s comments today that acknowledge the importance of constitutional recognition as an important step towards Closing the Gap and broader efforts to bring about a just, reconciled Australia.”

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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