House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Ministerial Statement: Indigenous Affairs

Closing the Gap Report 2010

Debate resumed from 24 February, on motion by Mr Snowdon:

That the House take note of the document.

10:01 am

Photo of Warren SnowdonWarren Snowdon (Lingiari, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Service Delivery) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—Let me first acknowledge the First Australians, one of the oldest continuing cultures in human history and the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and their ancestors past and present.

Two weeks ago the Prime Minister tabled the second annual report on closing the gap. The Closing the gap report demonstrated the commitment by the Rudd government to an open and transparent reporting of progress to the Australian people. From the outset we do acknowledge that there is much to be done to improve Indigenous disadvantage. We recognise that this is a national priority which will not be achieved in a parliamentary term. We can, we must and we will continue to work together to improve the status of First Australians.

We are acutely aware of the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous persons and non-Indigenous persons born today, which is 11.5 years for males and 9.7 years for females. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are twice as likely to die before the age of five as their non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander counterparts in this country. In particular, babies that are underweight are at greater risk of dying during the first year of life and are prone to ill health as they grow older. Evidence shows that chronic disease such as heart and respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the health gap. Almost 20 per cent of this gap is attributable to smoking alone.

We know that the data needs improvement and we are working towards addressing this. However, this will not detract from the fact that, in 2010, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still dying earlier than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country, and from unnecessary disease.

I acknowledge the Close the Gap Steering Committee for Indigenous Health Equality’s recently released Shadow report on the Australian government’s progress towards closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The close the gap steering committee report represents the voice of our key stakeholders and provides an assessment on government progress against the close the gap statement of intent, signed by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Leader of the Opposition, Aboriginal health leaders and others in 2008.

The report identifies three commitments that need continuing effort, which I will now respond to. Firstly, there is a comprehensive, evidence based long-term and targeted plan of action. The shadow report calls for a comprehensive long-term plan of action that is targeted at need, that is evidence based and is capable of addressing the existing inequalities in health services in order to achieve equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030. Addressing Indigenous disadvantage is a national responsibility. COAG has agreed to a comprehensive national plan for closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage which is broadly articulated through the National Indigenous Reform Agreement and the National Integrated Strategy for Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage. This is the basis of a long-term strategy, and investment is targeted, guided by evidence and outcome based.

The government has committed an unprecedented $4.6 billion to tackle disadvantage through early childhood schooling, health services and economic participation, healthy homes, safe communities, governance and leadership. In health alone the Commonwealth is committing more than $805.5 million to tackle chronic disease, which research has shown is the single largest contributor to the current life expectancy gap. For the first time under COAG governments have agreed to targets. In the health arena they are to close the gap in life expectancy within a generation and halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018. This is the measure of our action and a clear demonstration of our commitment.

The shadow report calls for the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs. Consultation and partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are central to implementing the COAG Indigenous chronic disease package. The state and territory level Indigenous health partnership forums—comprising the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, the Commonwealth government, state and territory governments and a number of divisions of general practice—are the primary vehicle for providing advice on the implementation of this package. The National Indigenous Health Equality Council, comprising key stakeholders and individuals in Indigenous health, provides the government with regular policy advice and monitoring of the government’s progress with Indigenous health. This council reports to me. More broadly, the government is establishing a new representative body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, in recognition of the need for a strong voice for Indigenous Australians.

The shadow report also calls for support and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. The Commonwealth government is investing more than $324 million per year across more than 170 community controlled health services to improve access to health care tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous Australians. This represents a 33 per cent increase over funding in 2007-08.

The government’s commitment was recently brought to the fore when a historic agreement called Pathways to Community Control was developed. This is a four-year strategy for Aboriginal community controlled health services to design plans to address their own health needs in the Northern Territory. Since 2007-08, approximately $13 million has been invested to support those community controlled health organisations to meet best practice and quality standards accreditation. Since we were elected to government, funding of almost $1 billion was allocated across the Health and Ageing portfolio in 2009-10 to health programs specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These recent investments equate to a 57 per cent increase in Indigenous health funding across the portfolio since the 2007-08 budget.

Not only are we targeting chronic disease; a total of $112 million will be invested as part of COAG’s ‘New Directions: an Equal Start in Life for Indigenous Children’ to help tackle health problems during early childhood. Earlier this month I joined the Prime Minister and Ministers Macklin and Roxon to announce the funding of 10 new services to provide child and maternal health services to Indigenous mums and bubs. This is in addition to the 43 existing services that have been funded and are currently operating. That means a total of 11,000 Indigenous mothers and their babies will be assisted over five years, and this is just one of a number of ways we are helping close the gap in infant mortality.

Significant activity has taken place within my own community of the Northern Territory. Between July and December 2009, a total of 390 ear, nose and throat consultations were provided to 385 children with an ENT referral. In addition, a total of 1,990 dental services were provided to 1,429 children who live in the Northern Territory. A workforce of 273 additional health professionals have been placed in remote primary healthcare services on short-term placements as part of the Remote Area Health Corps, RAHC. This included 31 GPs, 178 registered nurses, 22 allied health professionals and 42 dental personnel.

We also acknowledge the need to increase the capacity of our primary healthcare workforce to ensure effective health care is delivered. As part of our COAG commitment we have directed $170 million to workforce expansion. In the Closing the gap report released this month the government announced the appointment and recruitment of 94 new Indigenous project officers and 83 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outreach workers in health clinics and organisations across the country. These new positions can help individuals move towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker positions or enrolled nursing. In addition, the Commonwealth will provide 75 extra health professionals and practice managers in Indigenous health services, 38 new GP registrar training places in Indigenous health services and expanded nurse scholarships and clinical placements.

Just last month I launched the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association to provide advocacy, support and mentoring for the existing 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers across the country. This is an initiative the sector has been calling for for more than 30 years.

In particular, there is an area where we believe much more needs to be done. This is to address smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Last week I was able to announce the appointment of Tom Calma as the national tobacco coordinator to help address the unacceptably high risks of smoking in Aboriginal and Strait Islander communities. The Commonwealth has committed $100.6 million in the COAG Indigenous health national partnership agreement to tackle Indigenous smoking. That is in addition to the $14.5 million made available in 2008.

A number of tobacco control projects are being implemented to assist Indigenous Australians to quit smoking. Six projects are currently underway in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. I will be announcing a further 14 projects next week. These projects focus on building an evidence base for reducing Indigenous smoking rates by trialling various interventions in different communities.

We need to understand the importance of this. Tobacco accounts for 20 per cent of deaths amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and 12 per cent of the burden of disease. We must reduce smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people if we are to effectively close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the rest of us.

I want to make some observations about the importance of the Aboriginal community controlled health sector. I have been fortunate to have been associated with people in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector for over 30 years. I am constantly reassured by the level of professionalism, dedication and commitment of the professionals who work in these health services across the country. They are extremely good examples of what comprehensive primary healthcare organisations can look like. The fact that we have in excess of 150 of them operating across the country is an example of what can be done when you invest appropriately in community based services.

In a number of states, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector is embracing the COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package. Earlier this month I helped promote free health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with former rugby league star Steve Renouf at the National Rugby League All Stars game on the Gold Coast, which was a resounding success. It was a great privilege to be there. It was a very important community event. This event was pioneered by Queensland’s peak body for the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, QAIHC, in partnership with their national affiliate. This promotion is a key first step in detecting a chronic disease and providing the necessary prevention and intervention that is required and can be accessed through the COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package.

Change is happening. The Prime Minister’s second Closing the gap statement is a demonstration of this government’s commitment to ongoing, open and transparent reporting of progress. Closing the gap is a national priority that should be above party politics, and I hope it is. This government is committed to delivering action, not just words, but we must keep up the momentum. We must ensure that we take along as partners in this process people who work in the public sector and the private sector and that, most importantly, we provide as far as we possibly can a capacity for ownership and decision making by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

I am enthused by the way in which the state and territory governments have embraced the obligations under the closing the gap initiatives. We have a joint partnership of $1.6 billion for health initiatives. I am committed to making sure that these initiatives meet their objectives. It is really very important that we understand that it is not just health that we need to address; we need to look at social determinants of health, which include such things as housing, education and employment.

Whilst it is important that we have first-rate primary healthcare services, as we do, it is also important that we understand that the best way to ensure the long-term health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is to prevent them from getting these chronic diseases in the first place. Prevention is very much at the forefront of what we are about. Again, we will do this in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities generally. I am enthused by the desire for participation, engagement and ownership by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health community and I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with them.

10:16 am

Photo of Sharon GriersonSharon Grierson (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a pleasure to speak on the Closing the gap report and to follow the member for Lingiari, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Service Delivery, Mr Snowdon. I again acknowledge and thank him for his work. He came to Newcastle for the national Indigenous health conference and his genuine concern, interest and knowledge were warmly appreciated by the participants. It is always interesting to have Minister Snowdon visit, because he knows people from all around this nation in the Indigenous community. I just know that the movement having come so far in terms of Indigenous men’s participation in health care is in part a tribute to his work over many years.

On 11 February this year the Prime Minister tabled his second Closing the gap report in parliament. It was a highly significant occasion. It had been two years since the Australian parliament made a formal apology to the stolen generations. One of the highlights and privileges of my career here will forever remain sharing in that most generous welcome from the Indigenous people. It was the first smoking ceremony we ever had in parliament. I was taken aback by the generous spirit of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I thought it was we who were extending generosity, but it was not. It was the greatest and warmest welcome I have ever felt from fellow Australians and the First Australians.

It is time that we have an official welcome and acknowledgement of the First Australians in every session of parliament. There is always debate about the prayers and protocols but I think that whenever the parliamentary session is opened it would be very appropriate to formally acknowledge and recognise the First Australians and their ownership of this great land.

In the two years since the first apology, for the first time the parliament has reached a national agreement with all the states and territories on closing the gap. I do not think we should underestimate how difficult it is to get all the states and territories aligned in purpose, and aligned in financial commitment as well, to achieve the same outcomes. Since that time there has been a national investment of $4.6 billion directed towards common goals, now shared around this nation, to transform the health, education and employment outcomes of Indigenous people. Two years ago we set six closing the gap targets. It was recognised that it will take a generation. One generation is not a very long time in history, but we cannot afford to wait longer than that to close this gap.

Before going through those targets I would like to acknowledge a staff member of mine, Sharon Claydon, who has been very active in Indigenous affairs and who put these same targets at a state ALP conference in New South Wales. Sharon was instrumental in working with a committee to get these targets recognised. I do acknowledge her work. It is wonderful when individual members of a large political party can make a difference. The difference that she was committed to comes from her very long experience in working in the Fitzroy Crossing area in Indigenous communities. The target was to close the gap in infant mortality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Currently we are seeing a decline in the rate, particularly evident over recent years. It now stands at 5.3 per cent, but we do have to improve that data as much as we can. We have targeted mothers and baby services programs. In 2008 the gap in child mortality meant that 205 out of any 100,000 Indigenous children died before the age of five, compared to 100 non-Indigenous children. This difference was certainly unacceptable. We are seeing, very slowly, that gap being closed. We have, as I said, rolled out many new services.

The second target was to provide access to early childhood education. I know that the Prime Minister acknowledged that some of the improvements come from better data collection and from finally having statistics from around the nation, but to know that 60 per cent of Indigenous children are enrolled in early childhood education programs in the year before school is very pleasing. It is not the same as the 70 per cent of non-Indigenous children, but it does mean that some of those programs that we have tried to target in early intervention are certainly now becoming accepted and entrenched into our communities.

The third and fourth targets were to halve the gap in literacy and numeracy achievement. We have all been focusing very much on the results there. Literacy and numeracy scores have varied, but in 2009 there was an improvement in the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students’ reading in years 3, 5 and 7. For year 9 students, unfortunately, the gap slightly increased. Having been an educator all my life I do know that, if you do not get to children early, if they are failing in year 7, then by year 9 it is generally compounded rather than turned around—and the My School website bears that out. The other indicator, the number of Indigenous students achieving a year 12 or equivalent attainment, is improving, but a long term view is necessary. It will take a long time to achieve that target.

Our fifth target was to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and it is a target about which we have seen some very concerted effort. It is still well below the non-Indigenous employment rate in 2008, but the most recent available data indicates there was a 21 per cent gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment. It is an improvement, but it is certainly going to take time. The life expectancy gap is the accumulative target and the beneficiary of all of these measures if we are successful. An Indigenous male born today is likely to die at just 67 years of age and an Indigenous female at 73 years of age. This is less than the 17-year gap that we thought existed a year ago. It is good news but, again, statistics have now been available to us that have never been available to us before. I think it is very wise that the Prime Minister has said that this is a long journey that we need to take. We cannot just use statistics; we do have to depend on those partnerships across the states and territories and across Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

I would like to take a little time to emphasise the benefit of some of the major expenditure in my own electorate of Newcastle. The Rudd government has provided millions of dollars in funding to support local Indigenous groups. More Aboriginal people live in New South Wales than in any other state, and 20 per cent of the New South Wales Indigenous population lives in the Hunter region. I think sometimes people do not realise the significance of our Indigenous populations in our urban communities, and I think it is sensible to keep reminding people that major regional centres like Newcastle and the Hunter region are home to many, many Australian Aboriginal people and their descendants.

The Worimi and Awabakal peoples have been very active in our area for a long time. It has been easier to support them because they have developed considerable social infrastructure over many years. But I want to call particular attention to the almost half a million dollars in funding over the next three years for local Indigenous service provider Wandiyali ATSI Inc. To be a service deliverer of such depth and to receive so much funding shows that their work is extensive. Wandiyali will receive that funding under the Australian government’s new $37 million Indigenous Community Support Service.

We have given over $100,000 to the Newcastle Family Support Services Inc. for its Koti Bulla Umullan Project. Then there is funding for the Loft Youth Venue. Of course, the most significant demographic groups for Aboriginal populations are young people, so we cannot ever do quite enough for them. We have given $33,398 to the Loft Youth Venue for its ongoing Indigenous cultural support program. If you go to the Loft Youth Venue in our area you will see a recording studio, events training, management training—you will see young people actually developing their skills and strengths around the cultural programs and activities they enjoy.

Almost $400,000 was given to the Indigenous languages, arts and culture program. It was wonderful when the Prime Minister visited my electorate for the seventh community cabinet and was presented with a book on Indigenous languages. This work is ongoing but long overdue. We have also given almost $345,000 to the Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association for IT and training resources; another $33,000 to the Loft Youth Venue for arts and cultural training for Indigenous youth; $10,000 to the Muloobinba Aboriginal Corporation for cultural programs for Indigenous men; and last year the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon. Jenny Macklin, and I announced $500,000 for a mobile playgroup for Indigenous children in Newcastle. That mobile playgroup bus is now decorated and filled up with wonderful resources, and goes on its outreach to assist young indigenous children all over the Hunter. That announcement was part of a $5 million Australian government package of specialised playgroups to be established in 20 regional and remote Indigenous communities across Australia, and delivers a range of activities to around 2½ thousand children.

At the other end of the education system, I note that this year the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Newcastle has reached a new height with more than 500 Indigenous students enrolled to study at the university. They are now studying across a wide range of disciplines—and I have said many times in this House that most Indigenous GPs were trained at Newcastle university. It is a long-established endeavour and Wollotuka, having its own school of Aboriginal studies, has provided the necessary pastoral support to young Aboriginal students coming from all over the state—and I think that this achievement is a tribute to them and their success. Just yesterday the university launched two Indigenous health programs designed to improve outcomes for pregnant Aboriginal women. This involves not only the Newcastle university but also the Hunter Medical Research Institute, which has an outstanding mothers and babies program, and Hunter New England Health.

Finally, I would like to mention Newcastle Knights player Cory Paterson for his amazing effort playing for the Indigenous All Stars in the recent NRL match. It was a delight to see so many people enjoying themselves, and it was wonderful to see the Indigenous team victorious. Cory can take great comfort from the fact that he gave a very solid performance—one that Kurt Gidley will not forget for a long time. Newcastle also had an off-field representative, as Country Rugby League vice-president John ‘Choc’ Anderson, the formal Newcastle rugby league chairman, was one of the team’s co-managers.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge that closing the gap is a high ideal, an ambitious ideal but a long-overdue ideal. As Minister Snowdon said before, it has bipartisan support in this House, and something that we would all like to have against our record as members of parliament is that we made a difference. I think this is happening now. I know in my own community the partnerships are strong, the history is strong, and the faith and hope remain particularly strong. There is hope as we, the Australian government, Indigenous leaders, the Indigenous community and the Australian people, continue to address inequalities and work to eliminate them. That is how progress will be made, progress that needs to come from the ground up, but by providing support in the frameworks underpinning success. Our job as government is to support and facilitate this progress. By doing so, we will lessen child mortality rates, improve literacy and numeracy levels, create job opportunities, increase access to health services and, we hope, continue to close the gap for life expectancy rates.

10:31 am

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with great pleasure that I stand to speak on the Prime Minister’s Closing the gap report. This is the Prime Minister’s second annual Closing the gap report, and the speech that he made in parliament in February details the advances that have been made and the challenges that still exist in closing the gap. Three basic principles have been set out in the report: the clear acknowledgement of previous wrongdoing and failure of policies, which was set out in the apology in February 2008 and is the basis for this report; a practical commitment to closing the gap, which is where this report gets its roots; and a commitment to transparency and accountability.

When I was first elected to this parliament I was on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs, which undertook an inquiry into Indigenous health and produced a report called Health is life. It was a very detailed report which highlighted a number of areas and actions that needed to be taken to bring about improvements in health—exactly what the Rudd government has been doing in closing the gap. It highlighted the need for investment not only in health but in education and employment and in programs that would improve the whole lives of Indigenous Australians. When we were preparing this report we visited Indigenous communities throughout Australia both in remote and non-remote areas.

The member for Newcastle highlighted that 20 per cent of the Indigenous population in New South Wales live in Newcastle. The largest percentage of the Indigenous population lives in Sydney. The member for Lyne made an outstanding contribution to this debate when he highlighted that we must not forget the needs of people in regions other than remote and rural areas. I grew up on the North Coast of New South Wales. At school I experienced firsthand that Indigenous students did not have the same opportunities as I did in education. Their health was nowhere near as good as my own health and that of my fellow non-Indigenous students.

As far as employment was concerned, the challenges that they faced were much greater than the challenges I faced. My expectations of what I would achieve out of life were very different to their expectations of what they would achieve out of life. I think that that is right across the board in Australia. The expectations that Indigenous students have had for a very long time are very different to the expectations that non-Indigenous students have. Those expectations are not only from their own perspective but also from a whole-of-community perspective. People generally tend to live up to the expectations that they and those around them have. A number of experiments have been conducted not only in an Indigenous environment but in environments throughout the world that have shown that people tend to achieve at the level of expectation that is directed towards them.

The Closing the gap report is placing new expectations on Indigenous Australians as to what they can and will achieve and new expectations as to what the government can actually commit to to help them achieve these expectations. Whether or not they live in a rural and remote area, which is what the Closing the gap report concentrates on, we must be very careful, as I have already said, that we do not forget those other regions because, no matter where an Indigenous Australian lives, their mortality rate is higher. They die younger and get a lot sicker than non-Indigenous Australians, so their mortality and morbidity rates are much different to those of other Australians. More Indigenous Australians are in jail and fewer Indigenous Australians are in highly trained and professional jobs. But it is changing.

The Closing the gap report is one of the tools that the Rudd government is using in its commitment to deliver to Indigenous Australians, and it is about time. The Health is life report was tabled in the parliament in May 2000 and not a lot happened after that. The Closing the gap report has measurable outcomes and it really holds the government to account. We are looking at halving the mortality rates for Indigenous children, under age five, by 2018, and ensuring access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities by 2013. We all know the importance of education: the start that children receive and that what they learn in those early years is paramount to their success in the future. These are all measurable outcomes that the Rudd government is looking at. We aim to halve the gap in reading and writing and numeracy achievements for Indigenous students by 2018. That means that all Indigenous students will have the opportunities that other students have, because literacy and numeracy provides the opportunities for a secure future. Without good literacy and numeracy skills, your opportunities in life are much less. You must be able to read, you must be able to write and you must have good numeracy skills to obtain those jobs that actually have the greatest returns. You must be able to undertake leadership roles in the community and be able to have the same expectation that a non-Indigenous student can have.

That is why the Closing the gap report is so vitally important. We aim to halve the gap for Indigenous students in year 12 or equivalent in attainment rates by 2020. Year 12 is the key to linking in once again to those jobs at the higher level within our community. Indigenous students need to have the expectation that they can achieve that. This is what the report is doing—that is, it is giving Indigenous students the same expectations that non-Indigenous students have. We aim to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018. Once again, that means that not only Indigenous students but Indigenous people in Australia will have the expectation that they can enter the employment market on a level playing field with non-Indigenous Australians.

I still visit the North Coast of New South Wales on a regular basis. I have nephews up there who have a number of Indigenous friends—Indigenous friends who completed high school and Indigenous friends who had leadership roles within the school. That would not have happened when I was going to school up there. But Indigenous students, once they leave school, find it very difficult to obtain employment. I visited the local supermarket. I still found that the overwhelming majority of the people working on the checkouts or stacking the shelves were non-Indigenous. Maybe there were one or two Indigenous people or maybe they were not at work on the days that I visited the supermarket. There is a long way to go on employment of Indigenous Australians. I know that the department is working very hard to address that. The department is following through on the policies of the government to get around that problem, to make sure that those young Indigenous students—whose ability is equal to that of the non-Indigenous students—actually have the opportunity to get those jobs, to work in the supermarket while they are going to school to supplement their income and to obtain a job when they leave school. There are programs that this government is putting in place to address that.

The Rudd government’s performance will be measured against whether or not that is achieved. It will be measured against whether or not those young Indigenous people move from school to employment and whether, as they move into employment, they access the higher level jobs. It will be measured against whether or not this support develops the expectation that they can achieve the same sort of lifestyle that non-Indigenous Australians have. Along with improving their education and the employment goals come the expectations that they will enjoy good health, that they will live as long as non-Indigenous Australians and that they will have access to all the services that they need.

I have not noticed too much disagreement in the House on the report we have before us today. The report we are speaking to is the blueprint for raising the expectations of Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians, for bringing the communities together—which in itself is an expectation—and for ensuring that the outcomes identified in the report are achieved. I commend the Prime Minister, the minister and everybody else involved in putting together the report and putting together the programs in the communities. I commend them for their commitment to achieving this goal. I will do everything in my power to see that those expectations for Indigenous Australians are raised.

Debate (on motion by Mr Secker) adjourned.