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The Uluru Statement from the Heart (Supplied)

The St Vincent de Paul Society says failures in meeting Closing the Gap targets and in advancing the goals of the Uluru Statement from the Heart highlight that the need for First Nations people to achieve equality is now more urgent than ever.

“St Vincent de Paul Society has a long history of both assisting and advocating on behalf of First Nations Australians,” said the Society’s president, Mark Gaetani. 

“A disproportionate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seek the Society’s assistance with essentials such as food, accommodation and other support. 

“In the Northern Territory, this can exceed 90 per cent of those seeking help, while 50 per cent or more is not uncommon in many rural and regional areas. 

“Our members are seeing how First Nations people are falling behind the rest of the population because of the inter-generational impacts of discrimination, social and economic exclusion and other factors.  

“First Nations people continue to die prematurely at alarming rates, with suicides and other self-harming at disturbing and unacceptable levels.

“Early childhood development is well below the national average, while incarceration rates for both adults and juveniles are through the roof. 

“Yet as the Uluru Statement says, ‘We’re not an innately criminal people’.” 

Mr Gaetani noted that the recent Federal Budget confirmed $2.4 billion over five years is allocated as part of the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, along with a $4 billion partnership with the NT Government to address conditions and overcrowding in remote housing. 

“However, much of the Closing the Gap data shows the problems are on a deeper and greater scale and that more decisive action needs to be taken, and urgently,” he said.

“St Vincent de Paul Society continues to call on all governments to properly fund and commit to achieving the Closing the Gap targets.”

Mr Gaetani said the Uluru Statement “concludes by inviting us to walk together in a movement of all Australian people for a better future”.

“Let us accept that offer in the generous spirit with which it was made,” he said.


First Nations equality now more urgent than ever (St Vincent de Paul Society)