Slow progress towards Closing the Gap

The crowd watches Kevin Rudd's National Apology speech on a big screen at Elder Park Adelaide

It comes a decade after then prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to indigenous Australians, once administered under flora and fauna laws, for the atrocities committed against them.

The report card shows just three of the Commonwealth's seven targets are on track, a decade after it was launched to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.

On track are the targets of halving the gap in year 12 attainment rates by 2020; halving the gap in child mortality by 2018; and ensuring that 95% of Indigenous four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education by 2025.

"It was a magical moment for me", Michael Welsh told Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC.

"Three of the seven targets are on track this year, giving us the most promising result since 2011", he told parliament.

However, the remaining four targets, including a key goal to close the 10-year gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians by 2031, are lagging. "One is our failure past year, and the other is the work being done on the ground by organisations". Nor are other goals, such as halving the gaps in employment, reading and math, as well as school attendance, by 2018.

The widespread optimism - so evident in the photographed faces of the crowd gathered outside Parliament House - was also fuelled by Mr Rudd's simultaneous introduction of the Closing the Gap campaign, which was to be a well-funded, co-ordinated national strategy to ameliorate the plight of our First Peoples.

Wyatt has rejected suggestions the original targets were too ambitious.

A decade ago, Australia embarked on an ambitious roadmap to uplift its indigenous people, who have trailed the rest of the population in nearly every social and economic indicator.

"When they signed it [Closing the Gap strategy] it was a signalling of intent to achieve the highest possible benchmark even if it meant it was going to be challenging".

"What I like about the refresh is it gives us a chance to look at the targets, are they the right targets or do we define them, like child mortality, in a slightly different way", Wyatt said.

The policy will extend principles of the indigenous procurement policy, which has allowed indigenous businesses to win more than $1 billion in government contracts since 2015, up from $6 million in 2012/13, he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged to add an indigenous voice to Parliament if there wasn't a bipartisan commitment to hold a referendum.

"Compensation is about resolving some of the unfinished business of the apology". Other states and territories, bar Victoria, have similar compensation schemes.



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