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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

Closing the Gap: Empowering Communities

Indigenous disadvantage persists. The gap is not closing.

In many communities, children are not getting an education, health is poor and life expectancy is low. There is a lot of drug abuse and violence, employment opportunities are few or non-existent and there is an entrenched culture of welfare dependence.

Although Indigenous Australians represent only 3 per cent of the population, they represent over 27 per cent of the prison population and this is rising – up from 20 per cent a decade ago.

Social policies for Indigenous Australians have not delivered positive outcomes, despite all the good intentions and the millions of dollars being spent over the past fifty years.

It is time we admitted that there is a fundamental flaw in our approach.

Let us apply the principle of subsidiarity. Let us devise a bottom up not a top down solution. Let us empower the mediating institutions of indigenous society – the family, the community, clubs and societies, and businesses – and not rely on large remote condescending bureaucracies and a non-indigenous support industry.

It is two years since Noel Pearson released his Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples report. It is time to act upon it.

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