The invaders and their endless Indigenous Reports

pdf  Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2011 (PDF - 4082 Kb);
    Online Report Details Australian Government - Productivity Commission - Website

Australia: Misleading? No Worries, It's Aboriginal!

I hope he can't read

Concerned Australians 30th August 2011

The Productivity Commission Report on Aboriginal Disadvantage released last Thursday was followed by screaming headlines of 'Child Abuse'. Even some of our very best papers were full on, 'Spike in Child Abuse Mars Indigenous Gains', 'Aboriginal Child Abuse Rates Rise', 'Child Abuse Six Times Higher for Aboriginals'

But just how accurate are these headlines and what did the Productivity Commission Report actually say?

One Key Messages of the Report is headed: Substantiated Child Abuse and neglect.

And 'neglect'? No mention of 'neglect' in the headlines, only 'abuse'.

The incidence of 'neglect' is in fact far, far greater than that of 'abuse'. Neglect and abuse are two different things. Not that this should cheer us up but we do at least need to understand it and responsible reporting needs to reflect it correctly.

So, what is child neglect? And what are the causes?

Child neglect occurs most often in communities where there is grave disadvantage. It is where there is a failure to provide for all of a child's basic needs including adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, hygiene and medical attention.

Neglect can be found, most often, side by side with poverty, unemployment, substandard living conditions, ill health and dependencies of the primary care-givers.

We are told that overcrowding in Northern Territory households is around 61%. The child protection report of 2010, Growing Them Strong, Together, tells us,

Poor housing and overcrowding were found to be a major contributing factor to poor child wellbeing outcomes and disturbed family functioning.

Screaming 'abuse' does nothing to help the children involved, those who are abused or those who are neglected. It is irresponsible and nothing less. One Aboriginal writer suggested 'child abuse' will, I am sure, be interpreted as 'sexual abuse'. The report, however, says nothing to suggest this but Aboriginal people can never rely on accurate reporting.

Misleading headlines that stigmatise are not needed even when the news is bad; what we need is accurate reporting that provides us with the information we need to understand the issues.

The temptation for editors to continue to blur information about Aboriginal people through their headlines is a continuing problem and needs to be challenged.

When will Aboriginal People in Australia get a fair go? When will Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory get a fair go?

Source: concerned Australians

Indigenous gap continues two years on

Peter Martin The Age August 25, 2011

Indigenous imprisonment, substantiated child abuse and chronic disease continue to worsen two years after Kevin Rudd announced an ambitious program to ''close the gap''.

The latest data assembled in a report titled Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage show improvement in only 13 of the 45 indicators monitored by the government. In another 10 the report finds ''no real improvement''. In seven it finds outcomes going backwards.

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15 - 65 Employment

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Overcrowded Housing

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Home Ownership

Although the first such report since Mr Rudd's 2009 commitment, much of the data is dated, giving only an indication of the trend at the time the commitment was made or slightly after.

The indigenous imprisonment rate for men soared 35 per cent in the decade to 2010; the rate for women jumped 59 per cent. By 2010 indigenous Australians were imprisoned at 14 times the rate of other Australians. In 2009 indigenous youth were detained at 23 times the rate of other Australians, a decline from the peak in 2008.

The rate of substantiated child abuse in indigenous families more than doubled over the decade to 2009-10, a period in which the rate of substantiated abuse among other Australians climbed by 25 per cent.

The report says while it is possible some of the increase is due to improved child protection action, ''some is likely to reflect real increases in child abuse and neglect, given little improvement in the social and economic circumstances of indigenous people''.
Indigenous households earn $300 a week less than other Australian households, a gap that is unchanged, although real indigenous incomes have increased strongly, keeping pace with other incomes.

Home ownership rates climbed steadily between 1994 and 2008 with the proportion of indigenous Australians living in a home that was owned rather than rented (either with or without a mortgage) climbing from 22 to 29 per cent.

The proportion of indigenous students completing year 12 climbed from 20 to 26 per cent between 2001 and 2008 and the academic performance of indigenous year 12 students improved, but the performance of other students climbed faster, widening the gap.
The mortality rate among indigenes appears to be falling, with child mortality falling sharply.

Spike in child abuse mars indigenous gains

Lauren Wilson & Milanda Rout The Australian August 25, 2011

In its fifth report to parliament since 2002, a steering committee reviewing services to indigenous communities has found little or no progress has been made to close the gap in areas including health and school education rates.

In a blow to the Gillard government, the committee chaired by Productivity Commission head Gary Banks found "there has been little change in literacy and numeracy, most health indicators and housing overcrowding for indigenous people".

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has concluded six weeks of community consultation to determine how the government should proceed with the Northern Territory intervention, established under the Howard government in 2007 to deal with reports of widespread child abuse.

Four years on, the steering committee has found that the rate of child abuse for indigenous children increased from 15 cases in every 1000 children to 37 between 1999-2000 and 2009-10.

"It is possible that some of the increase is due to improved child protection action, but some is likely to reflect real increases in child abuse and neglect, given the little improvement in the social and economic circumstances of indigenous people," it said.

It found that rates of hospitalisation for assault were seven times higher for indigenous men and 31 times higher for indigenous women than for non-indigenous Australians.

But the report notes big gains had been made to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous disadvantage, particularly in workforce participation.

"Nationally, indigenous home ownership has increased, and indigenous people are achieving better outcomes in post-secondary education, employment and income," it said.

The proportion of indigenous people living in a home owned or being bought by a member of their household increased from 22 per cent in 1994 to 29 per cent in 2008.

The weekly household income for indigenous people also rose, from $347 in 2002 to $445 in 2008, after adjusting for inflation.

The number of people working for post-school qualifications rose from 26 per cent in 2002 to 34 per cent in 2008, while there was "a significant increase in mainstream employment".

The report revealed patchwork results for the health of indigenous Australians, with rates of death from "avoidable causes" decreasing, but many key health indicators getting worse. This included hospitalisation rates for children aged up to 4, which rose from 287.6 per 1000 in 2004-05 to 327.4 per 1000 in 2008-09, leading to a rise in the gap as rates for other children remained stable.

"Aboriginal children had significantly higher admission and comorbidity rates, stayed longer and were more likely than non-Aboriginal children to die in hospital," the report said. "Hospitalisation rates for Aboriginal children for infections were more than four times as high as for non-Aboriginal children."

The report found a key contributor for the hospitalisation of indigenous children was infections and respiratory illnesses.

In most states in 2008-09, 192.1 per 1000 indigenous children were hospitalised for potentially preventable diseases compared with 104.3 per 1000 other children.

Among indigenous adults, the daily smoking rate remained unchanged between 2004-05 and 2008, and 2.4 times the rate for non-indigenous adults.

The report found 28.2 per cent of indigenous people aged 15 years and over reported their health as fair or poor, compared with 14.5 per cent of the non-indigenous population.

The statistics showed there was a slight rise in hospitalisations of indigenous Australians for self-harm and there were a greater number experiencing a "high/very high level of psychological distress" in 2008 than in 2004-05.

There was no change in the proportion of indigenous people aged 15 and over that were living in crowded households between 2002 and 2008. "There were improvements in access to clean water and functioning sewerage and electricity services in discrete indigenous communities between 2001 and 2006," it said.

Lawyers speak out on high Indigenous jail rate

Bridget Brennan ABC News August 25, 2011

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says governments are to blame for high rates of Indigenous imprisonment.

A Productivity Commission report released today shows Indigenous people are incarcerated at 14 times the rate of other Australians.

The report also found the imprisonment rate for Indigenous women has increased by 60 per cent in the last decade.

Alliance national president Greg Barns says state and territory governments need to focus more on preventing crime.

"In Western Australia, in the Northern Territory, in Queensland, most states of Australia, we have seen a law and order push by elements of the media and some members of the community, driven by conservative politicians," he said.

"It has meant locking up more and more people.

"It is unconscionable for a country to have so many people of one particular race or ethnic group in prison at those rates."