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Widening gap in Indigenous disadvantage symptomatic of a failing approach - Greens

The release today of a report showing that indicators of Indigenous social and economic disadvantage haven't improved and in some cases have got worse should be a strong signal to Government that the dictatorial, top-down approach taken by both the Howard and Rudd Governments simply isn't working and needs to change.

"Today's release of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report is a sharp wake-up call for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"The report shows that incidents of child abuse are increasing, and literacy and numeracy outcomes have shown little change. At the same time there has been a significant increase in Indigenous incarceration rates, particularly for juvenile detention where Indigenous juveniles are 28 times more likely to end up behind institutional bars. This is unacceptable."

"The unprecedented level of investment of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) and the COAG 'Close the Gap' commitments have not resulted in any significant improvements in outcomes to date," said Senator Siewert.

"The Prime Minister has responded by saying we need to double or triple our efforts - but there is no logic in redoubling an approach that is not producing outcomes. We need to be investing in successful programs and initiatives with proven outcomes."

"The Brough-Macklin experiment with the 'new paternalism' has proven a dud. Its time we gave up on heavy-handed, top-down measures like compulsory income quarantining and invested resources in the basics of building community capacity and improving quality of life.

"Its time to start listening to Aboriginal communities and building effective new partnerships to deliver the kind of simple effective measures they have been crying out for, for decades - like appropriate housing, primary health care and decent schools," she concluded.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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