The Prime Minister’s launch of this year’s Closing the Gap Report included several welcome changes.
Firstly, there is evidence that the Government is moving towards a greater focus on progress, achievements and success, instead of constantly centering on gaps and deficits, without ignoring inequalities or areas needing improvement. This is something Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities and researchers, have been requesting for a long time.
We know that the way evidence is framed can make a difference. Hearing positive stories can inspire us to take action to improve our wellbeing; on the other hand, continually hearing about problems can leave us feeling disempowered.
One example of this is the target of halving the gap in child mortality rates from 2008 to 2018. When we focus on the gap, we see that we did not meet the target and therefore, might conclude that no improvement has been made. When we look more closely at the data, we see that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child mortality has actually declined by about 10 per cent in the last decade. There has been an even bigger drop in non-Indigenous child mortality. This is a good news story for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and for non-Indigenous children, but this good news gets lost when we only focus on the gap.
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