Thursday, March 10, 2011

Call for yearly targets in Indigenous health

The Federal Opposition has called for yearly targets to be set for closing the life expectancy gap for Indigenous Australians.

The Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda yesterday delivered an update on the campaign, saying it will be another five years before there are significant improvements in Indigenous health.

The Opposition's Indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel Scullion says that would be disappointing and it does not have to be the case.

He says the Government should set more frequent targets.

"What we need to know is every year between now and then what the target is," he said.

"We either need to be celebrating or we need to be changing what we're doing every year.

"We need to ensure that the aspirational target in 2020, every single year between now and then we have a target on every benchmark that's going to increase change."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the targets are already tough and she has reaffirmed the Government's pledge to close the gap within a generation.

"We've committed to meeting the target," she said.

"We're putting in very substantial investments in health, in education, in housing, in employment and it's important to act on all those fronts."

Ms Macklin has also defended suspending the welfare payments of parents who do not ensure their children go to school.

Mr Gooda has criticised the policy, saying it hurts Indigenous people without boosting attendance rates.

But Ms Macklin says every parent should make sure their child attends school.

"We know how important it is that parents do the right thing by their children, that they get their children to school.

"And we'll make sure that we keep acting with every mechanism we have available to us to encourage parents to do the right thing by their children."

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