Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said he was delighted a record number of Australians were today supporting events highlighting the common desire to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
“There is no doubt that there is fierce bi-partisanship across the board on this issue and more Australians each year are throwing their support behind the campaign, which is now in its fifth year,” Senator Scullion said.
“But I think what we really need to see now, in order to truly de-politicise the issue, is some absolute independence in terms of judging how we are progressing against the targets, and that’s in the numbers.
“Rather than continuing to discuss the magnitude of the tasks ahead, we need to be in a position where we can analyse what’s working and what’s not, without bias and without fear of scrutiny.
“If we can move forward to a place where we have a single piece of paper at the beginning of each year that tells us how we progressed in the last 12 months, not what we hope to do by 2020, we will be much better-placed to adjust funding and programs so that they are more effective.
“For example school data released yesterday showed that the gap between the retention rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is actually widening. A breakdown of attendance figures for each school would give us a better understanding of why this is the case.
“Principals and teachers understand you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why they’re kick-starting their own attendance programs. If we had better data we could analyse which programs are effective.
“According to this year’s closing the gap report, the federal government committed $46.4 million over four years from 2009-10 to improving Indigenous data collection. So what exactly was last year’s $11.6m spent on?
“The Government must now take steps to improving data collection so that we know whether the billions of dollars that have been committed to closing the gap are delivering value and whether the nation’s promise to our Indigenous people is being met.”
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National closing the gap day highlights need for strong data 24 3 11.pdf