'This seventh Closing the gap report is in many respects profoundly disappointing,' Mr Abbott told parliament. 'Despite the concerted efforts of successive governments since the first report, we are not on track to achieve most of the targets.'
Mr Abbott said the government would work more closely with Indigenous communities, business, police, the health sector and schools to improve school attendance, create jobs and training, reduce violence fueled by drugs and alcohol and deal with key health issues.
The report showed Australia was on track to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 20 to 24. The target to halve the gap in mortality rates looks achievable by 2018. Mr Abbott said the new target of closing the school attendance gap within five years should be achievable.
Targets the report shows have not been met or not on track to be met include:
- closing the gap in life expectancy by 2031
- ensuring access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote areas by 2013
- halving the gap in reading and numeracy by 2018
- halving the gaps in employment outcomes by 2018.