Failure to close the gap is proof of need for Indigenous voice

CLOSING THE GAP: Reconciliation Australia welcomed the government’s planned overhaul of the Closing the Gap strategy. Photo: Jane Dyson
CLOSING THE GAP: Reconciliation Australia welcomed the government’s planned overhaul of the Closing the Gap strategy. Photo: Jane Dyson

A decade later, a review of the Closing the Gap strategy was outlined in a Close the Gap campaign report released on Thursday, February 8.

The report found that the government’s failure to base their policies on meaningful consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was the core reason the strategy failed to significantly improve health outcomes.

Reconciliation Australia echoed calls for the Federal Government to reset its approach to closing the gap in health outcomes, as outlined in the report.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the establishment of an Indigenous voice to parliament would help address key problems.

Ms Mundine said the review provided further evidence of what the Uluru Statement outlined last year – that there is a need for structural reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are heard.

“This is about more than setting targets. We need a structural solution to a structural problem,” Ms Mundine said.

“It’s well known and accepted that a major contributor to policy failure is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are left out of the design and decision-making process.”

Ms Mundine welcomed the government’s planned overhaul of the Closing the Gap strategy.

“It’s promising to see the Federal Government’s discussion paper emphasise a strengths-based approach that will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make key decisions,” she said.

“We know this approach is key to making real progress and we’re eager to see this sentiment backed up in practice as it offers an opportunity to reset the relationship, and work in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“This is why the Referendum Council put forward its singular constitutional recommendation for an Indigenous voice and its contingent upon governments and policy-makers listen to and engage with Indigenous people and organisations on issues that directly affect their lives,” she said.