Poor progress on Indigenous education highlighted by Closing the Gap report
The federal government’s annual Closing the Gap Report has identified significant shortcomings when it comes to improving Indigenous education outcomes.
The report shows that little progress has been achieved over the past 12 months nor since the National Indigenous Reform Agreement was established in 2008.
At present only one target is on track to being achieved, as the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 20-24 year olds achieving Year 12 or equivalent has increased from 45.4 per cent to 61.5 per cent since 2008.
However, all other areas are declining.
Widening life expectancy
The Indigenous mortality rate from cancer is rising and the life expectancy gap is widening.
While the child mortality gap has declined 31 per cent since 2008 with Indigenous child mortality declining by 33 per cent, Indigenous children aged 0 to 4 years are more than twice as likely to die than non-indigenous children.
Importance of education
The target of 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds to be enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 is also not on track, with only 87 per cent of Indigenous children enrolled in 2015 compared to 98 per cent of non-indigenous children.
Indigenous school attendance has not changed from 2014, with almost 84 per cent studying compared to around 93 per cent of non-indigenous students.
Progress will need to accelerate for this target to be met by the 2018 deadline.
The report shows Year 9 numeracy is on track for the 2018 target, with some gains made in Year 3 and Year 5 reading
Poor progress for Indigenous education outcomes in Closing the Gap Report and Year 5 and Year 9 numeracy in the proportion of Indigenous students at or above the national minimum standard between 2008 and 2016.
However, more needs to be done to ensure the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements is halved by 2018 for all Indigenous students.
A decline has also been seen in Indigenous employment rates since 2008, which are considerably higher in major cities than in remote areas.
Acknowledging Close the Gap Day
IEUA-QNT members acknowledged Close the Gap Day in 2017 with Chapter morning teas, calling for action on improving the health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper said it was important to acknowledge how we can all close the gap, as each year the Closing the Gap Report continues to measure Australia’s failures in addressing Indigenous disadvantage.
However, she said the report was not just a failure of the current federal government; it was a failure for all Australians.
“Indigenous Australians continue to die 10 years younger than non-indigenous Australians. There is no significant decline to child mortality statistics and no significant improvement to addressing literacy and numeracy rates, nor school attendance or enrolment in early childhood education. Enough is enough,” Ms Cooper said.
“Indigenous Australians deserve better,” she said.