Closing the gap is a program by the Australian government. The idea was promoted by the Rudd government in 2008 (Altman, 2009). It aims to reduce the issues that are faced by the aboriginal and Torres strait islander people. From 2008 to 2018 the federal government and state government worked together through the Council of Australian governments. In 2019 National Indigenous Australians Agency was formed which looks into closing the gap program. The target is to reduce the age gap of life expectancy, to reduce the mortality rates among children. This target was to be achieved by the primary health care system. From 2008 till now every year a report is presented by the Prime Minister on the progress made by the government in the last 12 months.
The target is that Aboriginal and Torres islander enjoy a long life (Rosenstock et.al., 2013). But the outcome is not satisfactory if we look into the data. The difference between the life expectancy is of 9 years between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Even though we can see improvement but improvement is not satisfactory. The target is to increase employment among youth. But according to data, only 57% of indigenous youth are engaged in employment, training and education. Whereas in the case of non-indigenous people 80% of youth are engaged in employment, training and education. Another target is to ensure that children are born strong and healthy. If we look into the stats we find that the improvement on a different target set by the government is not achieved. 2031 is the year for the target to be achieved which is very long. The period should have been less for achieving the target. The approach of the government is also criticised because it is said that it has become all about the focus of the government rather than the aspiration of indigenous people. The focus should be on the aspiration of people. It is the demand of aboriginal groups that shared decision making and formal partnership with government should be formed. They have expressed their voice that as first nation country they should not be living in third-world conditions. The aboriginal group also expressed that no data on aboriginals should be kept as secret. They have also raised concern that the coronavirus should not be used as an excuse to not fulfil the targets set by the government. It is important that the It is also important to respect the culture of aboriginal people. It is also important that proper consultation and negotiation with the aboriginal people should be carried on (Markiewicz, 2012).
The program has a good intention of removing the gap between the indigenous and non-indigenous people. The gap exists in different areas such as life expectancy, the health of children and employment. The program deals with the focus of the government rather than the aspirations of indigenous people. Thus it is essential that for the improvement of the living condition of the indigenous people the involvement of indigenous people should be there.
Altman, J.C. (2009) ‘Beyond Closing the Gap: Valuing Diversity in Indigenous Australia’ CAEPR WORKING PAPER No. 54/2009, Australian National University.
Markiewicz, A. (2012). Closing the Gap through Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity and Responsibility: Issues in the Evaluation of Programs for Indigenous Communities in Australia. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 12(1), 19-25 doi:10.1177/1035719x1201200103
Rosenstock et.al (2013), Closing the Gaps: competing estimates of Indigenous Australian life expectancy in the scientific literature’ Aust N Z J Public Health 37(4)
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