Feb 9, 2018

How Closing The Gap fell apart

As the tenth anniversary of Closing The Gap nears, a report has detailed how some very Canberran failings wrecked it.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

There's plenty of blame to go around for the failure of the Closing The Gap effort over the last decades. It's been the victim of funding cuts, Canberra's insular mentality and our federal structure that makes dealing with Indigenous issues an exercise in almost Kafkaesque bureaucratic complexity.

Monday's Closing the Gap report, marking a decade since the Stolen Generations Apology and nearly ten years since Kevin Rudd committed the Commonwealth to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people "to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2030".

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13 thoughts on “How Closing The Gap fell apart

  1. Desmond Graham

    At approximately 33 Billion per year – what gap? certainly not financial, in addition, add billions in royalties paid by companies.

    1. old greybearded one

      What are you blathering about? I don’t know too many rich blackfellas. Do you know any at all? The gap does not only exist in the territory by the way.

      1. graybul

        True OG1. But over decades we have seen how bureaucracy regularly seems to benefit far more than targeted recipients.

  2. graybul

    As a Territorian . . . What’s New!

  3. AR

    Is this meant to be a vindication of BK’s nanny state phobia?

  4. old greybearded one

    I would like to refer you to a comment on RN Drive by Richard di Natale. “When I worked in the hospital at Tennant Creek, Aboriginal women could have theri baby there. Now you go to Alice Springs. The gutting of important hospital service is a nationwide scandal. The Central RFDS base in NSW is 700 bloody km east of where it used to be. You might get a cut stitched in rural hospitals that once did significant surgery. This kind of stuff impact the indigenous communities way more than mine. Even here there are examples of racism discussed by my Aboriginal friends. Many of these issues stem form the overarching racism of the LNP since the time of Howard, who took their voice and Abbott who big noted and deceived and now Turnbull who refuses to hear.

  5. JMNO

    As Bernard rightly says, until Canberra-based public servants stop making policy in an information vacuum and accept that those for whom the policy is being made have more idea of what should be done (rather than the current Canberra attitude of suspicion that they 1. have vested interests pushing their own barrow 2. are opposed to change and therefore don’t want to do what Canberra wants to do, or 3 are well-meaning amateurs but don’t know anything about policy), indigenous policy and service delivery isn’t going to get any better.

  6. Lesley Graham

    The fact that it’s just been such an abject failure, again the money that is being pumped into it must be accounted for. This is the problem with taxpayer funding too many people think that they can charge huge fees & it doesn’t matter, the employment “support” networks are another example, of those that are actually private bodies functioning within a sales consultancy philosophy, but playing along as a “public service” entity, which means these companies are being given huge amounts of our money often for doing diddly squat & even when they’re shown up for their dishonesty the government does nothing. This is why these types of projects need not only to be overseen by an independent body, but also politicians need to be disallowed from either meddling or even changing the processes around or in departments. The funding needs to be long term accounted for, regularly audited with a well set up approach to improving the indigenous peoples lives they are meant to be supporting. Unfortunately until the politicking & the ridiculous nature of how this government functions works out it is the problem, nothing will change. as most politicians it’s been shown clearly over the years that have taken on portfolios more around gaining brownie points than actually having a clue about what they’re taking on. No matter how much hard work is put in, or the good intentions of those on the ground, nothing will change until the government fixes it’s problems.

    1. Karen Hutchinson

      Agree completely Lesley.
      Successive governments have poured tax-payer money into creating jobs for ‘whitefellas’ to create jobs for ‘blackfellas’ without any ‘blackfellas’ to tell the ‘whitefellas’ what the jobs are they need so that the ‘blackfellas’ don’t need the ‘whitefellas’ anymore. This is bureaucracy at work. Federal ICAC now!

  7. Bob the builder

    Too bloody right, as anyone living in remote NT could’ve and would’ve told you a decade or more ago.
    Lots of money spent, lots of mortgages in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney paid off.
    Aboriginal people more disempowered than for many a year.
    Even with Scullion’s reductionist obsession on school attendance, buckets of gold poured into dragooning kids to school (precious little effort on fixing the appallingly, borderline racist, education system), attendance is DOWN!
    Their top-down paternalistic approach hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and won’t work.

  8. AR

    Perhaps there could be a synergy between urbanoid Greens planting veggie gardens in remote communities?
    There is an abundance of nitrogenous input available and no lack of water.
    Watch the soil bloom!

  9. bref

    And politicians wonder why they’re on the nose. From communications to renewable energy, from reconciliation to closing the gap, from heavy industry to solar panels, from water resource management to home affordability. Everything they touch is a dud. Usually I try to be constructive or try to see a way forward in my comments here, but sometimes the consistency of mediocrity of our pollies is just so depressing…

  10. klewso

    Has it ever been anything more than burley, for cynical patronising government, fishing for votes – not least by Abbott – not interested in open discussion about what’s needed, but intent on dictating (and wasting)?

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