Reverse cuts to 'Close the Gap'
Published: 19 March 2015
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is urging the government to reverse cuts to Indigenous services as we acknowledge Close the Gap Day on 19 March.
It was recently revealed the government is on track to achieve just two of its seven goals for improving the lives of Indigenous Australians, according to the latest Close the Gap report.
“This report paints a grim picture – it shows no progress in halving the gap in Indigenous employment outcomes, small gains in Indigenous life expectancy and no progress on halving the reading and numeracy gap,” says AASW National President Karen Healy.
“This should prompt a call to the government to change their strategies that are obviously failing. Instead Prime Minister Tony Abbott simply agrees that the report is disappointing yet continues to cut more than $500 million from essential Indigenous services and preventative health programs – programs which could help the next report from being another failure.”
Over the next five years $534 million will be cut from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios. More than $160 million of the cuts will come out of Indigenous health programs.
Given the report identified high levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with undetected treatable and preventable chronic conditions that impact on life expectancy, Indigenous health must be the government’s priority, says Professor Healy.
“There needs to be a focus on greater access to primary health care services to detect, treat and manage chronic health conditions in Indigenous communities,” says Professor Healy.
“What we would like to see from the government now is a commitment to programs that work and long-term funding for Indigenous services, which are necessary to close the ongoing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”
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