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Closing the Gap review finds policy ‘effectively abandoned’ amid ‘extensive funding cuts’

The ABC’s Isabella Higgins reports (8.2.18) on a damning review of the Closing the Gap program which accuses the federal government of effectively ‘dropping’ the policy designed to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

‘The Federal Government has “abandoned” its Closing the Gap policy aimed at improving the lives of Indigenous Australians, a damning report claims.

‘The policy was created under the Rudd government to reduce inequalities in health, education and employment.

‘The Turnbull Government is looking at making changes after last year’s annual report, which indicated six of seven key measures were not on track, including reducing infant mortality rates.

‘This year’s report card will be released on Monday, but a review from the Closing the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has accused the Government of effectively abandoning the policy after five years.

‘The committee’s review states: “A revolving door of prime ministers, Indigenous affairs ministers and senior bureaucrats have all but halted the steady progress hoped for by First Peoples”.’

To close the health gap, we need programs that work. Here are three of them

Neale Cohen and colleagues write in The Conversation (12.2.18) that politicians often make sweeping statements on how to close the gap. But the authors cite advice from people working directly with Indigenous communities who have evidence for what actually works.

‘The tenth Closing the Gap report to be tabled in Parliament today is expected to show progress in the two health targets – to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 and halve the child mortality (death) gap by 2018. But only the latter is on track.

‘The Indigenous death rate has dropped by 15% (from 1998-2015), but we’re not on track to meet the deadline. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are responsible for the majority of this gap.

‘While death rates from heart and kidney disease have dropped among Indigenous people, death rates from cancer are on the rise, and the gap here is widening. The child death rate has dropped by 33% for the 1998-2015 period, and is reportedly on track to meet the target.

‘But overall, progress is slow. As governments talk about “refreshing” targets, three experts – in diabetes, maternal and infant health care, and rheumatic heart disease – provide evidence for how giving more support, funding and control to the Indigenous community leads to actual results.’

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