Indigenous rights protest

Queensland Closing the Gap Report Card shows why justice targets are needed

The Queensland Government today became the first state to release a whole-of-government report card on efforts towards Closing the Gap. In response, Rodney Dillon, Indigenous Rights Adviser, at Amnesty International Australia, said:

Government and community solutions to close the gap of disadvantage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians must be driven by data.

“Report cards are one step towards this and Amnesty International Australia welcomes the Queensland Government’s Closing the Gap Report Card. All governments should now do the same.

“The Queensland report card does show however, that there is much work still to be done – with more than half of the targets not on track to be met.

“The glaringly obvious omission from this report card and from the Closing the Gap Framework itself, is clear reporting on justice targets. At a time when Queensland youth detention centres are overcrowded, and kids are being held in watchhouses at alarming rates, this isn’t acceptable.

“The small amount of information on youth justice that was included showed that nearly 40% of Indigenous kids being locked up are under the age of 15, compared to only 23% of non-Indigenous kids.

“We need to be able to compare these figures, and other justice-related national indicators, to set targets that will reduce Indigenous overrepresentation. Targets – that include national reporting obligations and measures of transparency – are a proven mechanism to achieve real progress and accountability for change.

“There has been a deafening call from the community and Indigenous leaders to include Justice Targets in the Closing the Gap Framework and Federal Government must ensure youth justice is included in any refresh of the targets. Amnesty is also calling on the Queensland Government to lobby for their inclusion. If Queensland is serious about making a difference in this area, they will let their voice be heard in Canberra through COAG.”

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Joel Clark is a Government Relations Adviser at Amnesty International Australia.