Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to deliver the 10th annual Closing the Gap address in Canberra today. Originally established by, the then, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, after his apology to the stolen generations in February 2008, the Closing the Gap Strategy defined seven targets across health, education and employment for indigenous Australians.
While there has been some criticism about the targets themselves, what they have done is provide an ongoing focus for collective action in this critical area of national public policy. The targets have also provided the ability to assess performance year-on-year, and to adjust both the actions and the targets themselves.
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt has defended the targets, and knocked back suggestions they were too ambitious. "When they signed it [Closing the Gap strategy] it was a signalling of intent to achieve the highest possible benchmark even if it meant it was going to be challenging. What I like about the refresh is it gives us a chance to look at the targets, are they the right targets or do we define them, like child mortality, in a slightly different way," he said.
"If you don't set ambitious targets, you never strive to achieve them, the problem with Aboriginal affairs is we've always gone for the lowest common denominator," Mr Wyatt said.