Page 2471 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017

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which removed an area of discrimination from the Australian Constitution, allowing Aboriginal Australians to be counted in the census, thus recognising them as full citizens of this great country of ours. This continued the movement to full recognition begun by the Robert Menzies Liberal government, which, in 1962, amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act to give Indigenous Australians the vote in federal elections. This period was a momentous time in our nation’s history.

This year we also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Mabo High Court decision, ending the doctrine of terra nullius, thereby recognising the rights of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over their native lands. In recognition, the federal government has this week launched a new online mapping tool, which visualises and enables discovery of registered native title representative bodies throughout Australia. The mapping clearly shows the progress that has been made since the High Court decision in 1992 in the recognition of native title across many areas of Australia.

This year is also the ninth year since the closing the gap agreement was signed by COAG. This agreement set a number of ambitious targets for closing the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In the lead-up to the 10th anniversary, much has changed. A welcome change has been the move from a deficit language model to a strength-based approach that supports Indigenous advancement, which focuses on working in partnership with, not for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

But the grim reality is that, whilst we are making progress on closing the gap in some areas, it is not enough. And especially here, in the ACT, where the Labor Party has been in government for the whole time of the closing the gap initiative and where Indigenous numbers are small, we should have been able to make a significant difference, but we are not.

I would like the Assembly to note that this government is failing Indigenous Canberrans in education, in public housing, in public service employment, in health care, in the growing prison numbers and, most disturbingly, in child and youth protection services. Each of these areas is distressing. All have been highlighted in the media in recent times and more damning information has come to light. The lack of clear information is predominantly because this Labor government has moved away from cross-portfolio reporting. It has attempted to hide evidence of failure and lack of progress by separating it into individual directorate annual reports and budgets. But analysis of the NAPLAN results, annual closing the gap reports and reports on government services again and again demonstrates that not only is the ACT government failing to close the gap but in some circumstances the gap is widening.

In education the results are particularly damning. Students not attending school is one issue, but the fact is that the achievements and outcomes gap, as measured by NAPLAN, is not closing. Furthermore, when comparing ACT outcomes with those of other metropolitan areas of Australia, we are lagging a long way behind. It is all very well for the government to report that they are reaching the national minimum

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