Page 2472 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017
benchmark. However, that is not closing the gap; that is maintaining the gap. As the Canberra Times shouted loud and clear this week, ACT students are at the top of the nation. All of them? No, not Indigenous students. We call on the ACT government to work with the Indigenous community to make a difference in the educational outcomes of Indigenous children and young people.
Public housing is another area of significant failure. This government is a signatory to the national affordable housing agreement, which agreed as an outcome that Indigenous people would have the same housing opportunities as other Australians and that Indigenous people be provided with safe and appropriate housing. The agreement also establishes that it is the role of the territory to take responsibility for leadership in the matter of an Indigenous housing policy. This government has failed on both counts.
The Indigenous community does not have its own or appropriate public housing, administered or supported by Indigenous organisations. What Indigenous public housing there once was has been absorbed into the general pool, administered by non-Indigenous organisations. With regard to relocation into appropriate public housing, 50 per cent of Indigenous families are still waiting. But a failure in this area is to be expected when there is no Indigenous public housing policy to direct the actions of government agencies. We call on the government to work with the Indigenous community to develop an Indigenous housing policy—one that would supply, support and administer appropriate housing for Indigenous families.
An area where the ACT government could be making a significant difference but is failing is employment levels in the ACT public service. The 2008 COAG Indigenous employment strategy committed this government to a target of three per cent of Indigenous employment in the sector by 2018. In its 2011-15 employment strategy, this government committed the ACT public service to increasing the employment of Indigenous peoples from 0.9 per cent to two per cent, as a halfway measure. Yet it has failed to achieve even this. This government has set the bar so low that it literally is tripping over it. Recent estimates figures have revealed that although some progress has been made, Indigenous employment is still only 1.4 per cent of the total workforce. We therefore call on this government to be serious about the employment of Indigenous people in the ACT public service, to work with Indigenous employment agencies and offer genuine employment opportunities to hit the original target.
In child and youth protection services, the numbers of Indigenous cases are woeful. There has been an almost doubling of the number of children receiving child protection services such as investigations, care and protection orders and out of home care. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare annual report on child protection for 2015-16 shows that the rate ratio for Indigenous children receiving child protection services in the ACT was nearly 12 times that of non-Indigenous children. This is the highest in Australia. Are we, here in the ACT, heading towards a second stolen generation? It is good to know that the government is establishing an inquiry. We call on the government to release the terms of the inquiry forthwith, prioritising this as a matter of some urgency.