Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: what works and what doesn’t

A new report from the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse identifies the key elements that work to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is an online source of evidence on what works to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. The Clearinghouse is a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) initiative jointly funded by all Australian governments and delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The report, What works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage: key learnings and gaps in the evidence, will be launched today at Parliament House in Canberra by the Hon. Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

‘The report draws on the evidence collected and synthesised in the first year of the Clearinghouse around five building blocks: early childhood, schooling, economic participation, health and safe communities,’ said Clearinghouse spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

Prominent themes that emerged include the importance of community involvement, sustainable infrastructure, adequate resources, shared leadership, strong networks and respect for language and culture.

During its first year of operation, the Clearinghouse has also identified a number of approaches that have not proven effective in reducing Indigenous disadvantage.

‘A lack of collaboration with Indigenous communities, “one size fits all” approaches and a lack of appropriate adaptation can be the downfall of attempts to close the gap,’ Dr Al-Yaman said.

‘Short-term, one-off funding, too, is not helpful—services and interventions need to be developed in the context of wider, long-term, more holistic strategies in order to be effective.’

The report identified the need for good quality research and evaluation in the Indigenous context to build the evidence about what works.

Also being released today are two additional reports, a resource sheet titled Early childhood and education services for Indigenous children prior to starting school and the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse Annual Report 2010.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse can be accessed at www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap/.


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