Indigenous child health rises as education stalls
A new report released by the COAG Reform Council shows that under the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, which sets six targets for governments to improve health, education and employment for Indigenous Australians, only the Northern Territory is on track to make significant improvements by 2031.
Council Chairman, Mr Paul McClintock AO, said the report shows that the overall death rate of Indigenous Australians will need to fall faster to meet COAG’s 2031 target to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“We welcome the progress toward halving the gap in death rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian children in the four jurisdictions–New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory–for which we have reliable data.”
While the Indigenous child death rate remains twice that of non-Indigenous children, the rate for Indigenous children decreased faster than for non-Indigenous children between 1998 and 2010.
The Reform Council found that the rate of improvement in education outcomes for Indigenous Children was disappointing, with improvement stalling.
Despite progress in halving the gap in literacy and numeracy by 2018, a relatively small proportion of Indigenous students reach the national minimum standard. Nationally, across Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, between 66% and 77% of Indigenous students meet the national minimum standard in reading and between 72% and 84% in numeracy.
“In literacy and numeracy, most jurisdictions met their halving the gap progress points but this is based on a low level of achievement and little actual progress–so the news isn't as good as it seems,” Mr McClintock said.
The report also finds that school attendance for Indigenous students got worse in every jurisdiction from 2007 to 2012. Attendance fell steeply in Years 7 and 8 (the early years of secondary school), most notably in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
“While it is pleasing that the council can report some improvement in the health and education outcomes for Indigenous children, Australian governments have a lot of hard work ahead to achieve the targets set out in the National Indigenous Reform Agreement,” the Chairman said.