19 April 2018
Failure to close the gap proves need for different parameters: ALC
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“DO NOT measure us against the same parameters as non-Indigenous.”

That was the word from ALC chair Tony Wurramarrba for the 10th anniversary of the Closing the Gap strategy.

A decade ago, hopes were high for a new beginning when Australian governments united and vowed to close the gap in life expectancy and health inequality faced by Australian Aboriginals.

But just three of the seven targets have been met: halving the gap in year 12 attainment rates; halving the gap in child mortality; and ensuring that 95 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education.

Targets for employment, reading and writing, school attendance and life expectancy were not met.

During a presentation at a gathering of 80 prominent Indigenous Australians with the Prime Minister and First Ministers in Canberra, Mr Wurramarrba said his people had “an entirely different array of skills, strengths and abilities than non-indigenous Australians”.

“We run faster, jump higher, see further, perceive the environment in a way that non-indigenous Australians do not have the ability to do,” he said.

“Measure us against ourselves – how we are progressing in response to programs and investments that are working. Programs that actively build and invest in our strengths and provide us the opportunity to move away from the terrible contact and dislocation that has occurred.

“We will continue with our own unique economy, our intimate relationship with the environment, our own natural lifestyle, our own range of talents that we can showcase to the world.

“Then we can all stand equal, with no gap in confidence and pride of our own sense of place in the world. Then the gap will be closed.”



READ TONY WURRAMARRBA’S FULL SPEECH BELOW

I have stated previously that the “Closing the Gap” policy was a “Deficit Based Framework”. It put the broader Australian society as superior to that of Indigenous Australians.

That is, it looked through the lens of superiority and placed Indigenous People as intrinsically in a lower power paradigm than the rest of Australia people.

I have always stated that the Closing the Gap policy must be based upon a “Strengths Based Approach” which I am pleased to see is now being considered.

It is important to define this very carefully. If this has to have any meaning then it cannot be just lip service For the Closing the Gap policy to impact on improving and driving change in Indigenous Australian lives then it is not a matter of just measuring things.

Is government going to keep measuring us and comparing those measurements with broader Australian society?

How is that going to change anything?

It can only change things if it helps to understand what is working and what is not.

At the core of our future, put simply, any program or service delivery must actively work with the natural strengths and innate talents of Australian Indigenous People – and they are many.

1. Our Culture defines us as the most ancient people on the earth. Our Culture must be protected so we can stand proud in the wider world as unique and confident to enrich the wider world with our language, songs and spirituality.

2. We have an entirely different array of skills, strengths and abilities than do non-indigenous Australians. We run faster, jump higher, see further, perceive the environment in a way that non-indigenous Australians do not have the ability to do.

We are world’s oldest living culture because of these special abilities

How we move into the future will be what makes us build on those strengths – do not measure us against the same parameters as nonindigenous Australians because that will always show disparity and deficit.

Measure us against ourselves – how we are progressing in response to programs and investments that are working. Programs that actively build and invest in our strengths and provide us the opportunity to move away from the terrible contact and dislocation that has occurred. We will continue with our own unique economy, our intimate relationship with the environment, our own natural lifestyle, our own range of talents that we can showcase to the world.

Then we can all stand equal, with no gap in confidence and pride of our own sense of place in the world.

Then the gap will be closed.