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Prime Minister Rudd delivers his second Closing the Gap statement to Parliament

Posted on: 12 February, 2010
Issue: Vol 10 No 1, January 2010 - March 2010
Related to Policies

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered his second Closing the Gap statement to Parliament on 11 February 2010. He defended the present Government’s record on reducing Indigenous disadvantage.

The Prime Minister stated that the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is smaller than first thought. He explained that although it is good news, it is the result of having more reliable data, rather than the result of having any real improvement on the ground. The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is now believed to be 11.5 years for men and 9.7 for women, with Indigenous men expected to live to 67 years and Indigenous women 73 years. Mr Rudd told the House of Representatives that this is less than the 17-year gap that was thought to have existed a year ago.

In his ‘Closing the Gap’ statement the Prime Minister addressed each of the six targets that were set in 2008. These targets are:

  • Close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation
  • Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018
  • Ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities by 2013
  • Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievement for Indigenous children by 2018
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2020
  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018

One of the aims of ‘Closing the Gap’ is for Indigenous babies to have a better chance of being born healthy and staying healthy. Mr Rudd announced funding of $9.1 million over three years for 10 new mothers and babies services to support reaching this aim. The 10 new services are in addition to the 43 already funded under the New Directions program which gives Indigenous babies and their mothers better access to:

  • Pre and post pregnancy care
  • Standard information about baby care
  • Practical advice and assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting
  • Monitoring of developmental milestones, immunisation status and infections
  • Health checks and referrals for treatment for Indigenous children before starting school

The ten new services will be available in areas of need, including four new sites in the Northern Territory, two each in South Australia and Western Australia and one each in Tasmania and Queensland.
The new service providers are:

  • Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporation, Northern Territory
  • Pintubi Homelands Health Service, Northern Territory
  • Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Territory
  • Western Arrente Health Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Territory
  • Country Health South Australia
  • Tullawon Health Service, South Australia
  • Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
  • Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni Aboriginal Corporation, Western Australia
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service, Western Australia
  • Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan, Queensland

Funding will also be provided for seventeen new school-based sports academies to be opened across the country.

Mr Rudd stated that there is evidence to suggest that some progress may have been made for closing the gap but the progress is clearly too slow. ‘Governments had to take responsibility for past failures, but Indigenous people also had to step up and show leadership. If we are to make a break from the failures of the past we must all play our part’, he said.