Healthcare, housing, Indigenous reform and disability progress assessed by COAG Reform Council

The first reports assessing the performance of governments against National Agreements in healthcare, housing, Indigenous reform and disability have been released by the COAG Reform Council.

Chairman of the Council, Paul McClintock, said the four reports present some stark findings that governments must address-particularly in relation to Indigenous disadvantage. "The overwhelming disadvantage of Indigenous Australians is an alarming theme that runs through all of the National Agreement reports", Mr McClintock said. "While Australians have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, for Indigenous Australians the rate is the same now as it was for other Australians in the 1950s."

Another common thread running through each of the reports is the lack of quality data available to measure progress against the performance indicators. "Despite these data limitations, the reports are significant because they are a comprehensive snapshot of the performance of each government in these areas".

Some key findings:

* In 2007-08, two million people went to hospital emergency departments with illnesses or injuries that could be treated by GPs.
* In 2007-08, smaller jurisdictions on average had longer waiting times for elective surgery. The ACT had the longest waiting times (73 days), followed by the Northern Territory and South Australia (43 and 42 days respectively). Queensland had the lowest waiting times (27 days) of all jurisdictions.
* In 2007-08, at least 60 per cent of home sales in each State and Territory were unaffordable to moderate incomes households. Perth and Brisbane were the least affordable of the capital cities, and Melbourne was the most affordable.
* Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in unacceptable conditions. In 2008, almost 26 000 Indigenous households across Australia were overcrowded.
* The unemployment rate was four times higher for Indigenous Australians in 2008.
* One in five Australians has a disability. In 2003, over 40 per cent said they needed more assistance.

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