Closing the Gap analysis masks actual progress

Charles Jacobs

12 February 2018 | MEDIA RELEASE

“The analysis principles of the Closing the Gap strategy are inherently problematic and create an unstable environment for success,” Centre for Independent Studies policy analyst Charles Jacobs says in response to the Prime Minister’s speech today.

“While a noble ambition, defining success by the reduction of the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population can impede progress in a number of ways.

“Today’s report by the Prime Minister confirmed that the majority of closing the gap targets are not on track. Yet any progress made could be masked by changes in the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Jacobs says.

“For example, between 2005 and 2012, Indigenous life expectancy at birth increased 1.6 years for males and 0.6 years for females. However, due to increases in the life expectancy for non-Indigenous Australians, the gap only narrowed by 0.8 years for Indigenous males and 0.1 years for females.” Mr Jacobs says.

“More importantly, measuring performance in this way makes program and service delivery exceptionally difficult and could increase the wastage of funds.

“The fluid nature of the gap makes it challenging for program providers to know where they stand. If the standard you measure yourself against is constantly changing, it is difficult to strategise for the year ahead,” Mr Jacobs says.

“Hard targets  are not as idealistically desirable as closing the gap, but would bring clarity and consistency to program and service providers seeking to improve outcomes.

“Today the Prime Minister committed $2.5 billion of funding to be directed specifically to Indigenous-run service providers. Knowing exactly what figure you have to reach would allow these providers to incrementally plan a program over a number of years.”

Charles Jacobs is a policy analyst in the Indigenous Prosperity Project at the Centre for Independent Studies.

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