Governments must address Indigenous disadvantage: COAG Reform Council

By Angela Dorizas

The COAG Reform Council has released its first assessment of all nine Australian governments against National Agreements on healthcare, housing, Indigenous reform and disability.

COAG Reform Council chairman, Paul McClintock, said the review presented stark findings that governments must address, particularly in relation to Indigenous disadvantage.

“The overwhelming disadvantage of Indigenous Australians is an alarming theme that runs through all of the National Agreement reports,” Mr McClintock said. 

“While Australians have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, for Indigenous Australians the rate is the same now as it was for other Australians in the 1950s.”

Mr McClintock said the review also highlighted the lack of quality data available to measure progress against the performance indicators.

 “At present there are significant limitations in the availability of data across all four areas. It is either outdated or simply not available.”

The council recommended that COAG address the gaps in data so that it can properly assess year-on-year changes.|

Mr McClintock said governments must be held to account for the targets they have set for themselves.

Key findings:

  • In 2007–08, two million people went to hospital emergency departments with illnesses or injuries that could be treated by GPs.
  • In 2007–08, smaller jurisdictions on average had longer waiting times for elective surgery. The ACT had the longest waiting times (73 days), followed by the Northern Territory and South Australia (43 and 42 days respectively). Queensland had the lowest waiting times (27 days) of all jurisdictions.
  • In 2007–08, at least 60 per cent of home sales in each State and Territory were unaffordable to moderate incomes households. Perth and Brisbane were the least affordable of the capital cities, and Melbourne was the most affordable.
  • Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in unacceptable conditions. In 2008, almost 26 000 Indigenous households across Australia were overcrowded.
  • The unemployment rate was four times higher for Indigenous Australians in 2008.
  • One in five Australians has a disability. In 2003, over 40 per cent said they needed more assistance.

Download the performance reports: 

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