This year's Closing the Gap report is yet another reminder that we are failing our First Nations people and that we must redouble our efforts to address the root causes of persistent inequality.
Eleven statements, and yet on some of the most important indicators we are not even close to meeting the targets adopted more than a decade ago. As we currently stands, we cannot expect Indigenous Australians to live as long as the rest of the community, nor that child mortality rates will fall to the level the rest of us can expect. Just two of the seven goals are now on track, one less than last year. How are we going backwards despite pledges from all sides of politics to make sure that the people who have inhabited this continent for at least 60,000 years enjoy the same quality of life as the rest of us?
The report acknowledges that a top-down approach was set up to fail and that a strength based, community led approach will form a critical foundation for future work.
A good start would be to commit to the suggestion of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples that we start to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents, carers, elders and leaders at the local level to create an education system which is culturally safe, inclusive and relevant.
As I said in my first speech, the historic hand of reconciliation extended to our parliament through the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains unmet. I support calls for a First Nations voice in parliament enshrined in our Constitution and for a makarrata commission to supervise a process of truth telling and agreement making. We further need to officially acknowledge the Frontier Wars, as well as incorporate them as a central element of our school curricular, and to review the Frontier Wars being formally acknowledged at the Australian War Memorial. We must recognise that the First Nations people fought gallantly to defend their lands in the face of European invasion. I also believe that true reconciliation requires becoming a republic and a review on changing our flag.
Actions So Far
Speaking in the Senate - Closing The Gap