COAG report finds widening gap in Indigenous health
2 July, 2009
By Rob O'Brien
An increase in child abuse and a series of ‘unaccepable outcomes’ have been highlighted by a a COAG-commissioned report into Indigenous disadvantage.
The fourth Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report, released by the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Darwin today.
The Productivity Commission's report shows Indigenous children are six times as likely to be abused than non-Indigenous children. Since 2003, this gap has widened from being four times as likely.
The rate of substantiated notifications for child abuse or neglect for Indigenous children has more than doubled since 1999-2000, from 16 per 1000 children to 35 per 1000 children.
The report also found Indigenous 19 year olds who had completed year 12 or equivalent increased from 31 to 36 per cent between 2001 and 2006, compared to a non-Indigenous rate increase from 68 to 74 per cent.
Employment-to-population ratio for Indigenous people increased from 43 per cent to 48 per cent between 2001 and 2006. But a similar increase for non-Indigenous people left the 24 percentage point gap unchanged.
Gary Banks, who chairs the inter-governmental Steering Committee responsible for the report, said the data revealed mixed results.
“In all areas there are still unacceptable disparities in outcomes for Indigenous and other Australians,” he said.
The report finds that over the period reviewed, Indigenous people continued to share in Australia’s general prosperity, with increases in employment, incomes and home ownership.
Banks said further improvements in economic indicators were a positive sign, but preserving the gains during economic times would be challenging.
“A number of the key social indicators have shown little improvement, with a deterioration occurring in areas such as criminal justice," he said.
“There have been laudable efforts to improve data in recent years, but more work is needed. Improved methodologies suggest that Indigenous life expectancies are higher than previous estimates.
“But it is still not possible to say whether the gaps with non-Indigenous people have actually narrowed.”