Sixteen new targets have been agreed on by all Australian governments to help end disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, resetting a 2008 agreement and promising more extensive Indigenous involvement in implementation and measuring progress.
They come after years of failing to reach previously set targets and with promises by the Coalition Government to do better than previous iterations. However, no immediate new funding will be released to support the agreement, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying, “This isn’t about buckets of money.”
“This is about changing the way we do things and ensuring that we apply the resources most effectively to achieve that.”
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has welcomed the new targets, along with the involvement from Indigenous representatives.
But she noted that it’ll be difficult to achieve such targets “without addressing the issue of funding.”
“Labor will commit ourselves to these targets but they must be backed by money, action and accountability. Targets are only part of the story. As our leader has said we are also committed to the Uluru statement in its entirety,” she said.
“What is required now is leadership, innovation, action and a real sense of urgency. And critically funding and committment from all levels of government.”
The new targets cover closing gaps on life expectancy, baby birth weight, education attainment, employment, housing, reductions in incarceration, suicide and more.
They also include a push for “significant reduction in violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children towards zero,” but do not present a specific target.
Burney expressed disappointment on the lack of a specific target regarding domestic violence.
“I am a little disappointed, but I understand there is work continuing to establishing a target to address the issue of domestic violence. I understand the logic behind the fact that there is no target there at the moment, but there is going to be.”
Summary details regarding “Families and Households are Safe” target says that the target includes a commitment “to give further consideration to this target within three months of signing the agreement.” It says this delay reflects the need to collect more robust data — and that current data sources vary widely “in definitions used, data items collected and reference time periods, and are not easily comparable.”
Pat Turner is convener of the Coalition of Peaks. She said in a press conference announcing the reset targets yesterday that the voices of more than 4000 Indigenous people have been included in the process of determining these targets.
“The national agreement may not include everything our people want or need to make lasting change to our lives, but this is a huge step forward,” she said.
“Today we now have a comprehensive set of commitments from governments that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organizations at the Centre of Closing the Gap.
“We have all played our parts, but the real hard work starts tomorrow as we begin the implementation of the agreement.”