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The Prime Minister presented the annual Closing the Gap report to Parliament on 15 February 2012. Ms Gillard stated that Australia was on track in two out of six targets: halving of infant mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018 and ensuring access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities by 2013.
However, First Peoples Congress spokeswoman Jody Broun said that, while were some good outcomes in health and education, the situation was deteriorating in the area of justice. 'There's enough evidence to show things have gotten worse over the last 20 years in terms of incarceration rates and representation in the criminal justice system,' she told reporters in Canberra. 'We need a focus on that.' The Congress identified that it would engage with the Government on including justice outcomes in future commitments.
Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said that Indigenous youth incarceration rates were particularly dire, and efforts made to reduce Aboriginal children's truancy rates need to go hand-in-hand with quality education programs.
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert expressed doubts that the government was on track to meet any of its six Closing the Gap targets due to problems with data reliability, and echoed calls for a new target to reduce the high rates of Indigenous incarceration.
Source: The Australian and the National Congress
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