A disparity has existed between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the non-indigenous population since the arrival of Europeans in Australia. To this day, the indigenous population still suffers highly disproportionate rates of disadvantage against all measure of socio-economic status. The Closing the Gap Program introduced in 2008 has attempted to address the disadvantage faced by a the 649,200 people whose culture has formed a large part of Australia as a nation, it’s history and culture. The disadvantage is most evident in the indicators of employment, child mortality, year 12 attainment and reading and numeracy, with three areas of importance being life expectancy, early childhood education and school attendance. Being a decade after the introduction of the program, the evaluation of its effectiveness is crucial to determining the future success and wellbeing of the indigenous peoples.
By 2018, the Closing the Gap program targeted to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance. The importance in education lies in its ability to equip students with the necessary knowledge, training and skills for a productive and rewarding life. The intervention has addressed the gap in the attendance rates between Indigenous and non-indigenous students, with rates of only 83.2%, compared to 93% respectively. Under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy, the Australian government invested $1.3 billion through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy into a number of programs to improve educational outcome, an example being the Remote School Attendance Strategy in 2014. The initiative focused on enhancing attendance within remote communities, where the disparity existed at its greatest, operating throughout NT, NSW and SA in 78 sites to support 14500 students in getting to school daily. The strategies of the RSAS include working with 450 indigenous community members over 77 schools to develop a plan that assists students in travelling to school and highlighting the importance in doing so. Since the introduction of the RSAS, attendance rates have improved by 48% within the schools and communities it has aided. However, the overall effectiveness of the Closing the Gap program in increasing student attendance rates is poor, showing no meaningful improvement in any state or territory. The national Indigenous attendance rate of 83.5% in 2014 showed no improvement in it’s 83.2% in 2017 and the target to close the gap in attendance rates is not on track.
Health is a key factor in an individual as it allows them to succeed in school and employment opportunities across the life course. By 2031, the Closing the Gap program targeted to close the gap in life expectancies between the indigenous population, which had a life expectancy of 70.3 and the non-indigenous population with a life expectancy of 80.8 years between 2005 and 2007, a gap of 10.5 years. There have been a range of progr...