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Greens call for cooperative, community driven approach to closing the gap

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 28 Aug 2013

The Greens today welcomed the Close the Gap Campaign's election statement for 2013 and called for the old parties to commit to a cooperative, community driven approach to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"Close The Gap's election statement shows us that politicians need to engage closely on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues beyond the three year election cycle and commit to the long term objectives of closing the gap," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"In particular, I welcome Close the Gap's call for legislation to be passed to deliver national monitoring and reporting on efforts to close the gap in accordance with benchmarks and targets. For too long, insufficient and anecdotal evidence has been used to justify poor policy making.

"Whoever wins the election will have a fundamental responsibility to take a leadership role on ensuring agreement is reached with the states and territories over the new National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. A lack of cooperation is undermining this important process and it needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

"It is time that all levels of government started living up to their Closing the Gap responsibilities, which requires both ongoing investment in the Close the Gap vision through a national funding partnership, and increased commitment to community driven, localised solutions through Aboriginal Community Health services.

"This is particularly true in the final days of this campaign. It is time we heard strong commitments from the old parties about what they will do to deliver meaningful, on the ground outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"The Greens have announced positive, proactive steps to close the gap. Our eye health and hearing health initiatives will help address preventable vision and hearing loss amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with a focus on children to enable them to remain engaged at school and get a strong education.

"Our program to double the number of Indigenous Rangers over the next ten years will provide important jobs and boost economies in remote communities, as well as making an important contribution towards protecting country and our environment, while our Justice Reinvestment policy will help provide safer communities and address the internationally shameful rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and deliver on our international human rights obligations.

"The Greens have a strong track record when it comes to working with the community to deliver on our commitments to close the gap, and we can be trusted to continue this work in the next Parliament," Senator Siewert concluded.

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