The COAG Reform Council’s latest report on Indigenous reform shows gains in primary education, Year 12 attainment and post school qualifications—but employment is not improving.
Launching the report in Canberra, Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, the Hon John Brumby, said governments have made some promising gains in education but not in employment.
“It is great to see Indigenous students’ reading scores lifting across all year levels, a jump in Year 12 or equivalent attainment, and more Indigenous people achieving post-school qualifications,” Mr Brumby said.
“What’s concerning though is that these education gains aren’t improving employment—we found that since 2008, employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians did not improve in any State or Territory.”
COAG’s target is to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018 but over the past five years, this gap widened.
While there is better news in education, the findings are not all positive. Falls in school attendance were larger and more widespread than improvements, and high school numeracy results worsened.
In the health findings, the report shows that faster progress is needed to meet COAG’s target to close the life expectancy gap by 2031.
Obesity is highlighted as an area of concern, with more than 41% of Indigenous people obese, compared to 27% of non-Indigenous Australians.
And while there is good news in declining smoking rates, Indigenous Australians are still more than twice as likely to smoke as non-Indigenous Australians.
“A clear positive is that COAG is on target to halve the gap in child deaths by 2018. This is a resounding achievement.”
Mr Brumby said the report’s results emphasise an ongoing need for COAG to strengthen its performance reporting and accountability framework for Indigenous reform.
“While we are pleased to find successes in this report, we are wary that there is still hard work to be done in some areas. This is the time to regroup and to see these reforms through.”