The COAG Reform Council says that improvements in Indigenous child death rates and educational attainment show how continuous efforts can drive improvements in areas where results have been flat.
Speaking at the launch of the council’s fourth independent assessment of progress towards Closing the Gap targets, Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, the Hon John Brumby said it was important to recognise improvements as a sign of what can be achieved.
"The council hopes that the analysis given in our report will encourage debate and discussion and give rise to serious consideration of the fundamental issues related to Indigenous reform," Mr Brumby said.
"Responsibility for Indigenous policy is held by all governments and better government policies and services help in supporting the Indigenous individuals, families and communities who are striving to improve their lives."
Mr Brumby said it was fair to say that the report highlighted some success as well as some cause for concern.
"While Australia is on track to halve the gap in Indigenous child death rates, the Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction on track to meet the 2031 target to close the gap on overall death rates."
And while both rates of Year 12 achievement have increased and levels of post school qualifications have risen, the data also suggest that improved educational success has not yet translated into improved employment outcomes.
Indigenous students are also not faring well in reading and numeracy—the most basic skills for education, work and personal wellbeing—with numeracy even showing some decreases since NAPLAN began in 2008.
Mr Brumby said that Indigenous disadvantage was a national concern with a long road ahead and much more to be done.
"But for many Indigenous people, their world is changing now and changing for the better — their children are surviving where once they would not and more young Indigenous people are finishing school and getting a qualification," Mr Brumby said.
"Governments across Australia should take heart from the successes to date and be confident that change is possible, this report shows it."
The council’s report on the National Affordable Housing Agreement was also released today.