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ATSIC dubs Indigenous report 'shocking'

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 14 November 2003


The Australian Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) says a report into the welfare of Aboriginal people contains some shocking statistics.

The report was commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments.

Central Zone commissioner Alison Anderson says the report shows the life expectancy of Indigenous people is 20 years lower than other Australians, suicide rates are significantly higher, and numeracy and literacy skills are lower.

Ms Anderson says there needs to be a major effort to improve the wellbeing of Indigenous people.

"I think it's about giving a lot more power over to people to determine their own future and we're just there as a mechanism for them to fall back on," she said.

"And we know that this kind of thing is going to take a long time but we've got hope now that we've highlighted some of the major problems."

Ms Anderson says the report puts pressure on governments to address the disadvantages identified.

She says it is the first time the federal, state and territory governments have an agreed framework to improve the living standards of Indigenous people.

"ATSIC's been saying for years now that we need to strengthen our monitoring functions to make sure that we monitor properly the Commonwealth and the state agencies in real service delivery to Indigenous people throughout Australia," she said.

"I think that this is the mechanism that ATSIC's been waiting for, which we welcome now."


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