Friday 09 June, 2023
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service today called out the Tasmanian Government for failing to improve the health and welfare of Tasmanian Aboriginal People – with key Closing The Gap outcomes worsening in 2021-22.
TALS Acting-State Manager Hannah Phillips said the Tasmanian Closing The Gap Report exposed the real lack of available data.
“It is appalling that the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration continues to worsen,” Ms Phillips said.
“It is appalling that the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to worsen.
“It is appalling that the Tasmanian Government does not collect data and report on the number of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention, particularly given the scandals at Ashley that have been revealed by the Commission of Inquiry.
Ms Phillips said the continued failures of the Tasmanian Government to Close The Gap included:
Target Outcome 1: Close the Gap in life expectancy within a generation, by 2031. No data collected or reported
Target Outcome 4: By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) to 55 per cent. No improvement
Target Outcome 10: By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent. Getting Worse
Target Outcome 12: By 2031, reduce the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent. Getting Worse
Target Outcome 14: Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards zero. No data collected or reported
Community Engagement and Program Manager Lee-Anne Carter said the Tasmanian Government will not meet its targets if it consistently fails to provide relevant data and information under its own priorities.
“How can we, as Aboriginal people and organisations, be expected to prioritise, develop, and respond effectively if there is no proper data.” Ms Carter said.
“Why is it not possible to calculate reliable Aboriginal causes of death in Tasmania, or to have figures for life expectancy?
“How can you honestly say that you will reduce the rate of suicides if you don’t have the relevant information and data.
“We have a high number of children in out of home care, our justice rates (both adults and youth) are nothing to boast about.
“How can we have State Action plans for Family and Sexual Violence yet have no data?
“Stop pointing to other states and saying: ‘We aren’t as bad as other states and/or we are better than the national average’.
“Because the truth is Australia’s National Average is nothing to be proud of.”
Ms Phillips said imprisonment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children in out-of-home care were extremely disturbing.
“In 2021, 775.8 per 100,000 Aboriginal adults were incarcerated. Current trends show worsening performance. The comments in the report show a complete lack of action or plan to reduce this.
“In 2021, 34.4 per 1000 Aboriginal children were in out of home care. This may be the lowest rate across Australia, however performance is getting worse, not improving. The report suggests some partnerships with organisations to support Aboriginal people in Tasmania, but those partnerships are limited to certain Aboriginal communities.
Media contact: A.Mark Thomas, M&M Communications, 0422 006 732
On the 25th January 2024 the Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service launched its Bail Support program pilot.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service wants to see genuine engagement and consultation with a wide range of Aboriginal communities and organisations to support the best outcome for Aboriginal children and young people.