Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has presented the Closing the Gap report for this year, which shows progress on the health and wealth of Indigenous Australians. Turnbull vowed to continue to talk about the strengths of the members of the Aboriginal race.
Aside from having successive state and Commonwealth governments aimed at closing the gaps that Indigenous Australians are dealing with, the prime minister believes that there are still a lot of work to do. "We have not come far enough," he told the Parliament.
"Being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian means to succeed, to achieve. To have big dreams and high hopes," he said.
Health, education and employment are some targets covered in the Closing the Gap report. Over 61 percent of First Australians aged 20-24 had completed Year 12, up from 45 percent in 2008, Turnbull has reported.
The prime minister believes that when it comes to literacy target, the goal is "narrowing and achievable." However, the report indicates that only one of the eight literacy and numeracy benchmarks was being met by Indigenous students.
Meanwhile, progress on lessening Indigenous child deaths appears to be plateauing. Turnbull said he is both sad and disappointed that the goal to decrease Indigenous child mortality is not on track.
It was also revealed in the Closing the Gap report that the government’s aim to halve Indigenous unemployment by 2018 will not be executed. But Turnbull has assured that unemployment concerns will be re-evaluated together with Aboriginal organisations.
Labor's Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap report was "incredibly hard to listen to." "To hear that there are only two of the targets that are even close to being able to be met is alarming for all of us," she said. Burney has become the first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives.
Australia's First Peoples co-chair Jackie Huggins has described the Closing the Gap report as another round of disheartening news. "Respectfully your disappointment will not compare to our old people and what they feel at the repeated news that our lives are still shorter, sicker and poorer than other Australians," she said.
The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples hosted a breakfast at Parliament House and laid out its blueprint for change to the nation's political leaders. Some of the proposed changes include reversing Abbott-era budget cuts and adding a Closing the Gap target aimed at dipping imprisonment rates.