A new Productivity Commission report measuring the wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people demonstrates that Indigenous communities and organisations must be central
to designing and implementing solutions to ultimately help people thrive, says Jesuit Social Services.

“The Productivity Commission’s report into Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage shows us that too
many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing disadvantage. The number of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children taken into out-of-home care has tripled over the past
four years. This can often set people onto a sad trajectory of serious problems including poor mental
health, substance abuse problems and contact with the prison system, the rates of which have
increased over the same timeframe,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.

“All Australians deserve the opportunity to flourish and reach their potential, but there have been a
number of policy failures that have exacerbated the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples and the rest of the Australian population over the past decade.”

Jesuit Social Services has long advocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have
greater ownership over the Federal Closing the Gap initiative, which aims to reduce disadvantage
among Indigenous people and communities. The 2019 Closing the Gap report found that only two of
seven targets were on track.

“In July this year, a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap was struck. This new agreement has
been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations, and
includes new targets including a commitment to reduce the number of Indigenous people in our
criminal justice system. This is significant because it places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
voices, strengths and decision-making at the fore of influencing priority areas for reform and
ultimately improving outcomes for people and communities,” says Ms Edwards.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations have also played a critical role
in the development of four new Priority Reforms which will build and strengthen communitycontrolled organisations to deliver services and programs.”

The Productivity Commission report shows positive progress being made in areas including early
child development and economic participation, including employment.

“This highlights the strengths and capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With
communities and organisations having greater ownership over Closing the Gap targets and priorities,
we look forward to positive progress being made towards many other targets in years to come.

“Strengthening outcomes for Indigenous people creates a stronger, more cohesive society for all.”

Media enquiries – Kathryn Kernohan, 0409 901 248 or kathryn.kernohan@jss.org.au

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