The Australian Greens said today that Federal Government leadership to deliver the new National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap on Indigenous Health Outcomes is essential to closing the gap in life expectancy.
"Today's closing the gap figures suggest that while positive ground is being made in child mortality, there is still significant work to do in other areas such as improving life expectancy. The previous National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap on Indigenous Health Outcomes expired in June last year. The new agreement is vital to closing the gap and needs to be signed off between the federal, state and territory governments," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.
"Likewise, the Government needs to ensure the full implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23.
"To improve life expectancy, it is essential that we target primary health care and reduce chronic disease. The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey results show that smoking has reduced. This is a good step, but issues such as alcohol consumption and obesity need to be addressed.
"If Australia is to close the gap we also need a justice target. Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in gaol and we will not close the gap until this is addressed. Funding for justice reinvestment programs is essential.
"It is disappointing that the employment gap has not closed. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment seems to be increasing, but at a slower rate than the general population. Improving numeracy and literacy is a step towards long term employment outcomes, but it is important that issues beyond truancy are examined and that quality education is available. This needs to include better teacher support, training and action on hearing health factors.
"The Prime Minister needs to ensure that the budget cuts being considered by the Commission of Audit or welfare review do not undermine close the gap efforts.
"We know that cooperation between governments and communities is crucial for delivering the strongest outcomes across all of the close the gap measures. I encourage the Government to commit to this approach," Senator Siewert concluded.