Australia’s Closing the Gap targets will be redeveloped in partnership with Indigenous Australians for the first time with a direct focus on education as the key to unlocking the potential of this and future generations.
The Prime Minister said the 2019 Closing the Gap report highlighted successes across the country but that refreshed targets were an opportunity to work together to accelerate progress.
“Today is a day to celebrate what so many people have helped achieve, but we cannot hide from the fact that on average at the moment Indigenous children do not have the same opportunities as other children growing up in our country,” the Prime Minister said.
“With only two of the seven Closing the Gap targets on track to be met, it’s time to refresh what we’re doing.
“There is hope. Together there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
“The original targets were well intentioned but developed without the collaboration and accountability for states and territories and without input from Indigenous Australians.
“We want a Closing the Gap framework that’s developed alongside Indigenous Australians with targets based on science. That’s why the partnership we took and agreed through the Council of Australian Governments late last year is so important. These things take time, and we are committed to getting it right.”
The Prime Minister said his focus through the refreshed targets would be on education as the key area that can drive generational change, kickstarted by a funding boost for a suite of Indigenous education initiatives.
“Education is the key to skills, to better health, to jobs,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our new suite of initiatives builds on the record investments we’re making from the high chair to higher education to ensure the next generation of Indigenous businessmen and women, academics and workers get the education they need to have a foundation for a successful life.”
The package includes:
· Teacher boost for remote Australia - Removing all or part of the HELP debt for 3,100 students to encourage more teachers to work and stay working in very remote areas
· Youth Education Package - $200 millionextra support to give more Indigenous students the support and mentoring they need through their secondary studies
· Getting kids to school – Working community by community and school by school to invest $5 million in remote and very remote areas for projects that support and promote school attendance
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said the new education measures were designed to build on the success of existing Government policies developed in partnership with local communities.
“We’ve seen huge success in working with Indigenous communities and organisations over the last five years, to deliver real and meaningful changes. The Indigenous Advancement Strategy has been able to double the number of Indigenous organisations delivering services to Indigenous people since its establishment in 2013,” Minister Scullion said.
“At the heart of our agenda has been getting children to attend school and stay at school. I’m pleased that with the Prime Ministers announcement today, we will be able to further increase our efforts and investment with remote communities.”
Minister Scullion also announced an additional commitment to the Indigenous business sector with the Indigenous Procurement Policy 2.0.
“The Indigenous Procurement Policy, better known as the IPP, has supercharged growth in the Indigenous business sector with 1,473 Indigenous businesses delivering 11,933 contracts worth over $1.83 billion since its establishment in 2015. This is a spectacular increase from the 30 Indigenous businesses winning just $6.2 million in contracts in 2012-13,” Minister Scullion said.
“So from 1 July 2019, the Indigenous Procurement Policy 2.0 will introduce a target of 3 per cent of the value of Commonwealth contracts are to be awarded to Indigenous businesses within a decade, adding to the existing IPP target that 3 per cent of the number of Commonwealth contracts are to go to Indigenous businesses.
“We are investing further in what we know, what the data shows and what Indigenous communities tell us, works.”