What has been achieved in 10 years since Closing the Gap pledge?


Both Labor and Liberal Governments have been tasked with Closing the Gap on health, education and employment and targets for a raft of the measures are not being met.

An Australian prime minister who a decade ago set an ambitious timetable for ending indigenous disadvantage has blamed a lack of government funding for slow progress.

The mortality rate for indigenous children under four years old has fallen from 217 per 100,000 in 1998 to 145 per 100,000 in 2016, but it is still far higher than the rest of the population.

On track are the targets of halving the gap in year 12 attainment rates by 2020; halving the gap in child mortality by 2018; and ensuring that 95% of Indigenous four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education by 2025.

"A couple of simple things have turned it around".

"A major reason, although by no means the only one, we're languishing in meeting a number of targets is the uncertainty in government's financial effort over recent years and this needs to be named for what it is, rather than being buried in an increasingly indecipherable lump of statistical mud", Rudd said.

The three unfulfilled goals, to close the gap school attendance, to halve the gap in unemployment rates and school literacy and numeracy results, will be reviewed. "Governments must be the enabler of this success".

Mr Wyatt has defended the targets, and knocked back suggestions they were too ambitious.

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A decade ago, Australia embarked on an ambitious roadmap to uplift its indigenous people, who have trailed the rest of the population in nearly every social and economic indicator.

Between 2011 and 2014, Indigenous children aged zero to four were more than twice as likely to die than non-Indigenous children.

"What I like about the refresh is it gives us a chance to look at the targets, are they the right targets or do we define them, like child mortality, in a slightly different way", Wyatt said.

"So I say today, let's not bash the targets, let's enhance the targets".

With three targets set to expire, the government plans to "refresh" its closing the gap strategy and decide whether targets need to be re-worked.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged to add an indigenous voice to Parliament if there wasn't a bipartisan commitment to hold a referendum. Other states and territories, bar Victoria, have similar compensation schemes.

Mr Shorten has also committed $10 million to a "National Healing Fund" to help the Stolen Generations and their descendants, including support for family reunions and counselling.