5 August 2021
The stories and statistics that define the gap are appalling, and while the Close the Gap Agreement is a step in the right direction, I reiterate it does not go far enough.
As mentioned in Parliament this morning, even if the targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration by 2031 are achieved, Indigenous adults will still be 11 times more likely to be incarcerated and youth 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than the rest of the Australian population. There are some simple things we can do to quickly reduce this rate, most obviously raising the age of criminality and incarceration from 10 to at least 14 years of age.
The $1billion announced today to fund the closing the gap agreement is important step in the right direction. I particularly welcome the $378million redress scheme for members of the Stolen Generation. There is a lot of work to do and I don’t doubt that more funding and effort will be required.
I welcome the cooperation with the States and Territories and the Coalition of Peaks. We need a greater voice for Indigenous people and the seat at the table for the Indigenous Coalition of Peaks is important.
I am disappointed that a key element which drives the gap was not addressed. That is the lack of recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and the establishment of a Voice to Parliament as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The referendum was not funded in these measures, nor was a national campaign to educate the population about the need for Constitutional recognition.
We need Indigenous recognition in the Constitution and we need an Indigenous voice in to the Parliament of Australia, starting the process of truth telling – only then will we make substantial progress towards closing the gap.
So, while I welcome this renewed commitment to closing the gap and the consultation with the Coalition of Peaks and the national cabinet. I reiterate my call for the Government to:
- devise the question and publicly commit to a referendum on the Voice to Parliament without delay
- the referendum to be put to the Australian people during 2021