Education as important as Voice to Parliament, says Aboriginal leader Pat Farmer

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“The Labor government has inherited a mess around education and not only are the outcomes bad, as demonstrated by the latest Productivity Commission report, but they’re feeding into other problems for our people with other consequences.

“If you’ve got a solid education, starting with early childhood education which is absolutely critical, then you’re bound to make better-informed choices and you’re likely to get a job that you’re committed to and you can earn a decent income for you and your family.”

The commission report showed targets were on track to be met in the areas of healthy birth weight, youth detention and land mass subject to rights and interests. They were not on track for children developmentally ready for school, adult incarceration, children in out-of-home care, suicide and sea country subject to rights and interests.

Productivity Commission chairman Michael Brennan said it was only the second year of reporting under the National Agreement and it might be years before its success could be evaluated.

“This new information provides some emerging stories, but it is still too early to say if lives are improving under the agreement,” Brennan said.

But Turner said progress was moving too slowly on the reforms to include Aboriginal people as shared decision-makers on policies that affected them. This contrasted with the vast attention given to establishing a Voice to Parliament since Labor came to power.

“The four priority reforms are about changing the way governments work with our people and that’s where they’re dragging,” Turner said.

The report noted that the parties needed to agree on how to measure the priority reforms, which include creating formal partnerships, building the community controlled sector, transforming government organisations and sharing data.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Linda Burney said the Productivity Commission had provided consistent and transparent data to keep government informed and accountable.

“For too many years, First Nations data collection has been hard to come by and as we build these repositories, we capture the past and set the future,” Burney said.

“There are some disappointing results in the latest figures – it’s clear that more work needs to be done.”

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