Australia PM says Closing the Gap results are 'promising', but Indigenous communities should be worked 'with, not to'

01:25  13 february  2018
01:25  13 february  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Prime Minister describes this year's Closing the Gap report as the most promising result since 2011, despite seeing improvement in only three out of seven targets.

“The most valuable lesson has come from applying advice to do with , not to [ Indigenous people].” The Prime Minister said the refreshed Closing The Gap policy, set to be announced later this year, would focus more closely on communities , rather than setting targets at a broad national level.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described this year's Closing the Gap report as "the most promising result since 2011", despite seeing improvement in only three out of seven targets.

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[ PM says Closing the Gap results are ‘ promising ’, but Indigenous communities should be worked ‘ with , not to ’, by Lucy Sweeney, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 11, 2018.”]

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Mr Turnbull highlighted improvements in infant mortality, early education enrolments and Year 12 attainment, but noted that in order to close the gap in other key areas, a change of tack was needed.

"Three of the seven targets are on track this year, giving us the most promising result since 2011," he told the Parliament.

"The last decade has given us a richer understanding about what works and what does not.

"The most valuable lesson has come from applying advice to do with, not to [Indigenous people]."

The Prime Minister said the refreshed Closing The Gap policy, set to be announced later this year, would focus more closely on communities, rather than setting targets at a broad national level.

"As part of the Closing the Gap refresh, state-by-state targets will give us more granular and specific local insight," Mr Turnbull said.

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[ PM says Closing the Gap results are ‘ promising ’, but Indigenous communities should be worked ‘ with , not to ’, by Lucy Sweeney, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 11, 2018.”]

PM says Closing the Gap results are ' promising ', but more work to be done. But here's advice from people working directly with Indigenous communities who have evidence for what actually works .

"Data that ends up in a spreadsheet at the ABS here in Canberra is meaningless.

"Too much is written about communities, not nearly enough is written for communities.

"To give effect, data must be local and made available to communities, to local decision-makers who need to know what is happening on the ground and track changes and monitor progress. This is a big shift."

He also noted that using local expertise to decide solutions to local problems had been successful, and that the "best example of that", Empowered Communities, would be expanded beyond eight existing sites.

A new grants policy that would direct a larger portion of funds raised for Indigenous-related grants towards Indigenous organisations, was also announced.

Malcolm Turnbull emphasised the need to work more closely with individual communities. © Provided by ABC News Malcolm Turnbull emphasised the need to work more closely with individual communities. Labor pledges to legislate Voice to Parliament if elected

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In response to the report, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced that a Labor government would legislate an Indigenous representative body before holding a referendum on the issue if the Government did not move towards a referendum on a Voice to Parliament.

"If we cannot move to a referendum together, then the next Labor government will instead, as a first step, look to legislate for a Voice to Parliament," he said.

"I say to the Prime Minister and the Government: we will work with you, but we will not wait for you."

In 2015, the Referendum Council was tasked by the parliament to consult widely with Indigenous communities on a potential referendum to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a place in the constitution.

The council advised the leaders of both major parties last year that a referendum should ask Australians one question about establishing a "Voice to Parliament" — a national Indigenous representative body.

Mr Turnbull said the Government had not reached its decision lightly on a constitutionally enshrined representative body.

"We came to our decision only after careful consideration," he said.

"The Government remains absolutely committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait people in the constitution."

The Prime Minister said he expected a new parliamentary committee would be established soon to examine Indigenous constitutional change.

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