Leading social justice organisation, Uniting Communities, believes that National Closing the Gap Day will serve to highlight that Aboriginal communities are facing growing levels of inequality and disadvantage.
Sue Tilley of Uniting Communities said ‘there is a very real risk that the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples will be widened as a result of cutting funding for frontline and municipal and essential services. In addition, there is a high likelihood that we will now see many Aboriginal communities and homelands closed down unless the ongoing difference between the Federal and South Australian Governments is quickly resolved’.
The Federal Government’s Closing the Gap Report was recently released. It highlighted the widening gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal inequality and disadvantage. Sue Tilley said ‘While there’s been some progress in halving the infant mortality rate and the gap for Year 12 attainment, there’s been little progress with closing the life-expectancy gap; no overall improvement in halving the gap in children’s reading, writing and numeracy; and no progress in halving the gap in employment outcomes.
‘National Closing the Gap Day on 19th March reminds us of the importance of working towards closing the inequality gap by ensuring that the things that can make a positive difference to people’s lives are available to them. This includes a range of municipal and essential services in remote communities and homelands such as access to clean water, power, diesel, decent sanitation, regular rubbish collection, and good infrastructure in communities, as well as appropriate health and legal support services.
‘We take these services for granted in cities and towns but all these basic services are currently under threat in regional and remote Aboriginal communities and homelands as a result of Federal Government cuts to Municipal and Essential Services (MES) funding. If Federal MES funding or alternative funding is not made available, any recent gains made in closing the gap will be wiped out and the very existence of many communities and homelands will be threatened. Communities should not become casualties of the Governments’ blame-game and lack of a coherent and coordinated strategy about providing basic services,’ said Ms Tilley.
Uniting Communities calls on both the Federal and the South Australian State Governments to communicate and negotiate with remote communities and homelands, and to indicate how basic services will be provided as from 1 July 2015.