Commenting on the release today of new Closing the Gap targets to improve equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:
“Oxfam Australia urges all Australian governments to back up their support for the new Closing the Gap targets with investment and law reform to tackle the stark and unacceptable inequality that still faces the First Peoples of Australia.
“The 16 targets announced today are an important guide to achieving progress, but they cannot be achieved without investment in services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and reforms to address systemic injustice.
“The increased support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and commitments made to shared decision-making, outlined in the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, are very encouraging. This was the main tenet of Oxfam’s recent report, In Good Hands, which found that better results are achieved when communities own solutions and control services.
“Oxfam is calling on federal and state governments to commit to addressing the scourge of the world’s highest rates of imprisonment for Australia’s First Peoples, which on average means they are 11 times over-represented in our prisons. In some jurisdictions, Aboriginal people are 17 times over-represented.”
“Governments should address this shameful situation with reforms that increase the use of non-custodial sentences for minor offences, increase the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years, and expand justice reinvestment programs, which have substantially reduced prison numbers in Australia and in the United States.”
Oxfam Australia is a founding member of the Close the Gap campaign which led to the Closing the Gap policy agenda in 2007.
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