Data gap slows progress in indigenous health

Natasha Robinson; 5/12/09; (4 Items)

The public servant charged with measuring progress on closing the gap of disadvantage in 29 priority indigenous communities has been unable to measure health improvements among Aborigines because state governments failed to release key data. Co-ordinator-general of remote indigenous services Brian Gleeson delivered his first report to the government yesterday. It concluded that progress in achieving targets for indigenous reform set by the Council of Australian Governments was broadly on track. But Mr Gleeson warned that a “business as usual” attitude among some public servants was hindering progress, and infrastructure projects including boarding schools planned for the Northern Territory were behind schedule. And Mr Gleeson expressed his frustration that the signing of COAG agreements had meant the federal government had “limited access” to key data on closing the gap, with state governments failing to provide data to him for his report, particularly relating to health.


Aborigines are ill-served by cultural falsification and fraud
Wesley Aird; 5/12/09
As a nation we want more from just about everybody. We demand better from our politicians, our corporate executives, our young sportsmen and women. Yet we do not expect more from indigenous Australians. Sadly, as a nation, Australians have a predilection for indigenous confection. We undermine our national character when we accept cultural fraud. The real indigenous culture is as old as the land, with its wonderful tales of how, at the start of time, this great country was transformed by our ancestral beings. Then there is an insidious modern culture: a culture of fabrication that preys on unquestioning mainstream Australians. It thrives because of mainstream Australia’s inability to spot a cultural fraud even when it is staring it in the face. It is often shrouded in the mystical and unchallenged by the naive for fear of giving offence. It is handsomely rewarded with grants by unwitting government officials. This false culture is abetted by a broad willingness to be hoodwinked.

Education failure in any language
Nicolas Rothwell; 5/12/09
In the murky realm of indigenous policy-making, the darkest, most confused region is the labyrinth of initiatives for education in Aboriginal languages and competing proposals for the preservation of Australia’s original words and ways of life. For the past 18 months, since the Northern Territory scrapped its loose commitment to providing initial tuition, at a handful of remote schools, in Aboriginal languages, the flames of reactive controversy have burned bright. Reports have been drafted, new schemes proposed, campaigns waged, all aimed at saving indigenous languages and teaching in those languages, all to little effect. As those working at the coalface of remote community life know, educational outcomes in the bush remain abysmal in any language: against the backdrop of social and administrative chaos, mass narcotic intoxication and low school attendance, no remedial plans have proved successful in the long haul and across the regional map.

UN says Aboriginal health conditions worse than Third World
Ari & Tom Arup; 5/12/09
December 5, 2009
Another United Nations official has deplored the quality of life of indigenous Australians, saying Aboriginal health compares badly with indigenous communities in other developed countries and was even worse than in some Third World countries. The claim came as an important report card on services in remote indigenous communities found big gaps in health and community programs continued, despite significant investment. Anand Grover, the UN special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, released his preliminary observations following a trip to Australia.