The Palaszczuk Government has reaffirmed its commitment to Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage in Queensland.
Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Mark Furner said the national 2017 Closing the Gap Report highlighted areas of success and improvement.
“Queensland has the nation’s second largest Indigenous population, so it’s never been more important to continue our efforts to reduce disadvantage among our citizens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin,” Mr Furner said.
“We’re seeing positive signs in early education aimed at giving young Indigenous Queenslanders the best possible start in a lifetime of learning.
“Enrolments in preschool programs among Indigenous Queenslanders have increased to 85 percent, up from 63 percent in 2014.
“Queensland has shown the largest improvements overall in reading, writing and numeracy achievements with significant gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in six of the eight measures from 2008 to 2016.
“We’re also making progress in high school education with almost 95 percent of Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students making the grade to attain the Queensland Certificate of Education.
“In 2014 it was 86.5 percent.
“Queensland is building on the foundations of generational change in Indigenous education with more young people starting and completing their education than ever before.”
Minister Furner said a strong correlation exists between education and jobs with virtually no employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with higher levels of education.
“The Palaszczuk Government is continuing its focus on jobs, economic participation, procurement, training and business development opportunities with the whole-of-Government Moving Ahead initiative,” Mr Furner said.
“Having a job is a core component of Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage, so too is health.
“There are reductions in chronic disease and smoking, however with smoking rates remaining 2.7 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians there is more work to be done.
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government is investing more than $200 million over three years on services and programs targeted at closing the health gap.
“The Palaszczuk Government is continuing to work with local communities on justice matters and has initiated a number of reforms to divert, rehabilitate, educate and support employment to reduce recidivism.
“We all have a role to play in helping to Close the Gap, and as Minister, I am committed to working alongside Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, and local communities to improve outcomes for the nation’s First Australians.”
The National Indigenous Reform Agreement was agreed in November 2008 by the Council of Australian Governments, which is comprised of the Commonwealth Government and the governments of each of Australia's States and Territories. This agreement sets out an integrated intergovernmental reform strategy intended to reduce Indigenous disadvantage by 'Closing the Gap' between life expectancy, health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
In December 2016, COAG committed to working with Indigenous leaders, organisations and communities to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda, emphasising collaboration, evaluation and utilising ‘what works’ in each jurisdiction.
This work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Mark Furner