The 2016 Closing the Gap report shows, as in previous years, that there have been mixed levels of success in meeting the targets set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)in 2008.
The target to halve the gap in child mortality by 2018 is on track. Over the longer term, Indigenous child death rates declined by 33% and the gap narrowed (by 34%) between 1998 and 2014. Immunisation rates for Indigenous children are high – by the age of five a higher percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are immunised compared with other Australian children.
While total Indigenous mortality rates have declined over the longer term, particularly from circulatory diseases (such as heart disease and stroke) the target to close the gap in life expectancy is not on track, based on data since the 2006 baseline.
In remote areas, 85% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool in 2013. In December 2015, COAG renewed the early childhood education target, aiming for 95% of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025.
There is mixed progress on the target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students by 2018. Across the 8 areas (reading and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9), the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieving national minimum standards is on track in 4 of these 8 areas.
In May 2014, COAG agreed to a new target to close the gap in school attendance by the end of 2018. In 2015, the attendance rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was 83.7%, little change from the rate in 2014 (83.5%). Progress will need to accelerate for this target to be met.
An increasing proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are completing Year 12, up from 45.4% in 2008 to 58.5% in 2012-13. This means the target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 is on track. Over the past decade there was a 70% increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education award courses. There is almost no employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous university graduates.
The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track. Factors such as economic growth, strong Indigenous businesses and gains in Indigenous education will have an impact on the results.
Download the report (and read the full summary)