Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Focus on enabling those Aboriginal people who are in most need of support

By Sara Hudson - posted Monday, 15 February 2016


The Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap speech this week confirmed the failings of a policy that treats all Indigenous people as disadvantaged and in need of support - ignoring those who have achieved success, and downplaying the real levels of disadvantage experienced by others.

In delivering his speech, Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged that the statistics in the report don’t do justice to the diversity of Indigenous Australians.

As long as policies focus on Aboriginal people as a homogenous group - rather than focusing on the most disadvantaged of them - those policies will benefit only Aboriginal people who don’t need support, and have little effect for those at the bottom of the heap. 

Advertisement

This is reflected in the mixed results of the Closing the Gap report - with little progress in most of the areas, and only some small gains in child mortality and Year 12 attainment.

Total state, local and federal government expenditure on services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians now exceeds $30 billion each year, and countless additional services and programs are delivered by non-government organisations. Unsurprisingly, this duplication has resulted in an unnecessary waste of resources, and funding is not reaching those who need it most.

However, while the Closing the Gap policy hasn’t managed to narrow the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes, it has managed to bridge the divide between two opposing sides in the Indigenous debate.

Normally those on the left vehemently oppose anything the right says when it comes to Indigenous affairs. But one thing both sides are agreeing on is that the Closing the Gap policy is flawed and the government needs to stop wasting money on policies and programs that don’t work.

Patrick Dodson has argued that the Closing the Gap policy should be scrapped, as has Professor Jon Altman,  while Noel Pearson has voiced his despair at a government and system that cannot discern ‘excrement from clay’.

In his speech, the Prime Minister signalled his intention to work with Indigenous leaders and communities, and announced the government will be implementing a regional empowerment model in eight communities.  He also emphasised the important role that supporting Indigenous businesses plays in improving the economic and social outcomes of Aboriginal people, noting that Indigenous businesses are about 100 times more likely to employ Indigenous people than other businesses.

Advertisement

Yet, while it is heartening to hear Mr Turnbull focusing on economic development and empowerment as important strategies to ‘close the gap’, Indigenous empowerment should mean real jobs, not government programs - as the PM’s chief advisor on Indigenous matters, Warren Mundine, has also stated.

Perhaps the best thing the government can do to assist Aboriginal people is to abolish the Closing the Gap Policy and the endless reports that accompany it with statistics even the Prime Minister himself admits are misleading - and focus on enabling those Aboriginal people who are in most need of support.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

34 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Sara Hudson is the Manager of the Indigenous Research Program at the Centre for Independent Studies and author of Awakening the 'Sleeping Giant': the hidden potential of Indigenous businesses.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Sara Hudson

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Sara Hudson
Article Tools
Comment 34 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy