The Australian Greens said today there is still a long way to go to close the gap, questioning the impact of expanded NT Intervention measures.
Senator Rachel Siewert, spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues also supported calls for improvements to be made to inadequate data collection which undermines important Closing the Gap initiatives.
“I am always encouraged to see improvements in Closing the Gap targets, but it is clear that most improvements are yet to be made,” Senator Siewert said.
“The upcoming Federal Budget needs to see commitments made to extend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health programs beyond 2013, when many are set to expire.
“I question the reliability of the data used for this report. While the Government says reliability and regularity of data collection is increasing, it is far from adequate.
“This is consistent with the poor evidence to support existing measures, such as those being undertaken as part of the NT Intervention.
“Unfortunately the Government’s rhetoric about their commitment to Closing the Gap is undermined by their actions. They are continuing with the Stronger Futures legislation, which will see the NT Intervention continue for up to 10 years. The measures being forced on the Northern Territory are not working and they cannot be justified through the inadequate consultation process.
“The NT Intervention has the potential to widen the gap, not reduce it.
“I am also concerned about employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially given the phasing out of the CDEP program. I am consistently told by people in the NT that they are worried about losing jobs as a result of this change.
“I support calls for justice targets to be included in the campaign to close the gap as justice outcomes are inexorably linked to education, employment, health and engagement with culture and community,” Senator Siewert concluded.