Close the Gap day: Shock statistic on indigenous life expectancy

That means a non-indigenous child in preschool this year could outlive a year 12 indigenous student.

In fact, since the Close the Gap campaign started in 2007, indigenous mortality rates have worsened.

Today is Australia’s 12th National Close the Gap Day, a campaign designed to address disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There remain major gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in life expectancy, child mortality rates, employment, school attendance and education.

Only two targets Close the Gap targets — early childhood education and year 12 attainment — are on track, according to the 2019 Close the Gap report.


Despite the lack of progress on some goals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar says Australians are “sick and tired” of hearing about indigenous people’s problems.

Even Australia’s indigenous community is getting exhausted of “being described in the deficit”, said Ms Oscar, a Bunaba woman.

A new report, released today, details a number of positive initiatives, including how Australia is on track to halve the gap in the number of indigenous students finishing year 12 by 2020.

The Birthing on Country Project helps indigenous women access safe, cultural birthing traditions within mainstream maternity services, while the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Academy is redesigning education to be delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students.

Other initiatives include the IndigiLez Leadership and Support Group, which aids the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex indigenous community and the Yawuru Home Ownership Program, which addresses housing problems.

“Any improvement for the better must be acknowledged and recognised,” Ms Oscar said.


“Our choice and our voice are vital if we are to make gains and start to close the gap,” the report said.

Today’s focus is also in recognising that indigenous people have to be directly involved in the decision making.

The idea is not new.

“Sadly, we’re continuing to send the same messages around the need for our own engagement around determining … effective programs and services,” Ms Oscar said.

“There’s no real progress that can be achieved without the participation of indigenous people.

“People working at the community level are driving positive change.”


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