Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s failure to end the entrenched disadvantage of Aboriginal people was described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott Wednesday as “profoundly disappointing” with key targets missed and employment levels actually worsening.
Abbott – who has prioritised improving the lives of indigenous Australians – said progress had been made in some health and education areas, but most goals were not being met and more work needed to be done for the country’s most impoverished community.
Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, meanwhile, said the report presented “two nations, two Australias”, and the country’s first Aboriginal woman elected to the national parliament said the country should be “ashamed”.
“This seventh ‘Closing The Gap’ report is in many respects profoundly disappointing,” Abbott told parliament, referring to the yearly report on the divide between Aborginal and other Australians.
“Despite the concerted efforts of successive governments since the first report, we are not on track to achieve most of the targets.”
The report aims to improve the lives of Australia’s Aborigines, many of which live in remote and poor areas and have significantly lower life expectancies than other Australians, by setting targets on health, education and mortality.
Abbott said there had been improvements, with mortality rates lower, child and maternal health improving and heart disease rates down for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Gaps in high school completion and mortality rates also appear within reach.