Australia is a world beater in its incarceration of Aboriginal people, with the highest Indigenous jailing rates on earth.
NATIONAL: A new international report has ranked the life circumstances of Aboriginal Australians at the “bottom rung” and warned that Aboriginal children are “23 times more likely” to face jail than non-Aboriginal children.
The report also notes that federal government programs still falling short to address extreme hardship within Aboriginal communities.
The London-based rights organisation, Minority Rights Group International, in its latest annual survey of Aboriginal communities globally and released in Bangkok, says Australian Aboriginal communities “occupy the bottom rung” of a range of social indicators.
Aboriginal Australians are also over-represented in the criminal justice system and are 14 times more likely to be sent to jail than non-Aboriginal people.
“Indigenous minors are particularly at risk; Indigenous girls and boys are 23 times more likely to be imprisoned than their non-Indigenous counterparts,” the report said.
The outlook for Aboriginal people comes despite federal government programs and moves to give greater recognition to Aboriginal Australians by removing racially discriminatory provisions in the constitution.
The report says the 2006 program of “Closing the Gap” has addressed the situation of “extreme Indigenous disadvantage” by setting clear targets to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.
“However, recent analysis indicates that the government is on track to meet only two of its six targets (under the initiative),” the report said.
Across a range of indicators such as education, health and life expectancy, they all fall significantly below non-Aboriginal averages, it said.
Aboriginal communities also appear to have failed to fully benefit from the mining boom.
“To the contrary, it appears that many Traditional Owners have not been properly consulted” about the development projects upon whose lands the resources were recovered, the report said.