Thursday, 15 February 2018
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Senator, for that important question. Can I say this has been the most encouraging Closing the Gap week I can remember. We've had the best results since the target began 10 years ago, with three targets now on track. Yes, there are still another four targets not on track, but I have to say that's a bit unsurprising. When you set targets on the back of a coaster around a kitchen cabinet, you don't have any engagement with communities. You don't have to take my word for that. Page 17 of Oxfam's report released last Friday provides an insight into that approach. So we're going with a different approach—one that will drive real change. So we're consulting Indigenous communities across the country, including through the Special Gathering meeting last week.
It has also been an encouraging week because of the fantastic new initiatives that we launched. We've announced a new Indigenous Grants Policy that will set targets for our service delivery agencies to increase the number of Indigenous community-controlled organisations delivering services. This is a monumental way to change the way we fund service delivery, and it will mean more Indigenous organisations delivering services to communities from the APY Lands through to Point Pearce in the senator's home state. We've also announced a new Indigenous Business Sector Strategy to continue the geometric rate of growth in the sector caused by the now $1 billion worth of investment through Indigenous procurement since the introduction of our IPP compared with just 6.2 in 2012-13. We are expanding the Indigenous Land Corporation's mandate to invest in sea country. We are creating more opportunities to grow the Indigenous estate with our reforms to the land account, which will be a benefit of up to $1.5 billion over 20 years. These initiatives are not from us. These initiatives have come from a partnership with regional and rural Australians, particularly with our First Australians.
I thank you for the question. Clearly, our measures are having an impact. We've seen that child mortality has dropped 33 per cent. The overall mortality has dropped 15 per cent. Trachoma is on track to be eliminated as a public health problem by 2020. The gap in blindness and vision impairment has halved. We've seen since the last census that the number of Indigenous Australians with a job has increased by 23.3 per cent and the number of Indigenous businesses has increased by 30 per cent compared with just one per cent for non-Australians. Clearly, there is more to be done. We need to ensure the huge funding that the Commonwealth gives to the states and territories to deliver services is actually reaching Indigenous communities. Unfortunately, in your home state of South Australia, Senator, the Weatherill Labor government seems to be out of ideas. The school attendance target in South Australia is not on track. The reading and numeracy target is not on track, neither is employment or life expectancy.
Our policies have resulted in a 23.3 per cent jump in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in work. In South Australia we're investing in practical measures to stop the vicious cycle of recidivism by getting people job-ready in prison. I recently launched the Correctional Services Training and Employment Program, with $225,000 over three years to train 20 Indigenous Australians as correctional services officers. This will make the prisons in South Australia more culturally competent and better placed to deal with their inmates. We'll deliver 20 Indigenous prison trainees in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Mobilong and Cadell prisons. A young lady from Murray Bridge, Annina Tarasenko, is 23 and one of the first trainees to be selected for C-STEP. She says, 'The program has changed my life.' So she's told us that as an Indigenous person working in correctional services she can make a positive difference for Indigenous— (Time expired)