Government cooperation needed to deliver better closing the gap outcomes

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The Australian Greens say more cooperation is needed between the states, territories and federal government to deliver better closing the gap outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"Today's COAG Reform Council report shows areas of improvement in some closing the gap targets, but not the broad improvement that we need," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said today.

"I am pleased to see figures to suggest child mortality rates are on track to be halved and that goals around year 12 education and early childhood education are also looking better. However, in regards to outcomes especially in relation to numeracy, clearly some work is still needed in the education system.

"In spite of this, mortality rates are double those of non-indigenous children, and the rate is triple in the Northern Territory. This is unacceptable in a supposedly first world nation, and shows there is still much work to be done.

"Efforts to improve closing the gap outcomes require strong, long term investment and cooperation between our governments that goes beyond politicking, beyond party lines and beyond state and federal bickering.

"The states, territories and federal government need to reach an agreement on the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes, which received funding in the May budget. To date, only Victoria have signed up.

"It is concerning that the other states and territories have not signed up, given that there is clear a need for them to do so. Minister Snowden yesterday said that the WA Government would not even enter into negotiations over the plan. As a Western Australian, this is very distressing to me.

"Closing the gap is an issue for everyone, and it needs to be treated as a priority if we are to meet these targets," Senator Siewert concluded.