Lucy Wicks speaks on Closing the Gap

Lucy Wicks MP - Championing mould related illnesses in parliament.

Barang, Yerin, NAISDA , Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council and The Glen have been acknowledged in the Commonwealth Parliament by the Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks.

Ms Wicks was reflecting on the past 10 years of the Closing the Gap framework.

“There’s been a lot of progress, but I think we can all recognise that there’s a lot more work to be done,” she said. “As I look around this parliament, I see a resolve and a commitment to close the gap on all sides of the chamber. “I see it when I’m part of events such as the co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the Close the Gap Campaign, and I see it as a member of the backbench policy committee on Indigenous affairs in the government. “I see it in the hard work and the commitment of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Indigenous Health, including through this government’s commitment to continuing this work with the involvement of First Australians as well as all states and territories.

“And I see it in the heartbeat of our Indigenous people on the Central Coast through their passion and their care for one another and our community. “In particular, on a day like today, I’d like to pay tribute to the Barang organisation, which includes the NAISDA Dance College, led by the talented and indefatigable, Ms Kim Walker; Yerin Aboriginal Health Services, led by Central Coast local, Ms Belinda Field; and, of course, the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council. “I’d also like to place on the parliamentary record the resolve and commitment demonstrated on a daily basis by the selfl ess advocates at The Glen. “The Glen is the largest Aboriginal drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre in NSW.

“It’s based at Chittaway Point and it’s assisting our Indigenous community right across the Central Coast and, indeed, beyond. “Under the leadership of CEO, Mr Joseph Coyte, The Glen is a great example of how the Closing the Gap process is more than just a piece of paper, it’s more than just a symbol and it’s more than just a process. “For people like Joe, there are people coming to The Glen who need help, rehabilitation and support, that I’d venture to say, extends well beyond what those of us in this place would have to deal with in our everyday lives. “At The Glen, opportunity is more than a mission statement, it’s a life-changing shift that can save lives and open doors to a brighter future, but to get there, we fi rst need the framework that’s enabled by initiatives like the Indigenous Procurement Policy, or IPP.

“Joe has told me that The Glen has responded to the IPP by starting numerous social enterprises, including setting up a separate company to make profi ts that help fund the running of the rehabilitation program. “Joe said: ‘This is a space that we have strategically identifi ed as a possible avenue for us to help create employment opportunities for Indigenous people’. “Joe also told me that the IPP will allow The Glen to become self-reliant, moving away from a reliance on government funding and, thus, allowing them to drive the future direction of the organisation. “It’s a practical example of what is being achieved.” “Importantly, this is not the only item that’s now on track.

“For the first time since 2011, three of the Closing the Gap targets are on track. “I acknowledge that this may not, for many, be seen as a signifi cant step forward, but it is progress nonetheless. “This year, the Closing the gap report found that the target to halve child mortality is back on track, with signifi cant improvements in health care. “Between 1998 and 2016, we’ve seen a decline of 35 per cent in the Indigenous child mortality rate and a closing of the gap by 32 per cent. “The report also indicates that outcomes in education are improving, with the early childhood education and year 12 attainment targets on track. “Today, there around 14,700 or 91 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in early childhood education in the crucial year before starting school. “This improvement means that the target to have 95 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 is set to be realised. “There are also more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students staying on until year 12, with over 65 per cent of Indigenous young adults aged 20 to 24 achieving year 12 or equivalent, well up from around 47 per cent in 2006.

“I know that there is a thirst and desire for this common ground to be more than just a statement, particularly when it comes to our young people. “This is true on the Central Coast, for example, with the advocacy of locals like Ms Lisa Wriley in Kariong, who for many years, has been involved in activities that have drawn together people from across our region to tackle issues around closing the gap and much more. “Lisa told me about the initiatives of people like Dr Beryl Collier, Reverend Penny Jones, Mr Phil Bligh and many others, who hosted fi lm screenings and barbecues for Indigenous young people. “In fact, at the wonderful Kariong Eco Garden, there is a truly inspiring welcome mural and display, including a panel painted by Aunty Joyce Dukes. “I’d love to know that this local committee and its initiatives have a future, and I commit to finding out. “I also know that it’s another example of my community’s desire to do their bit in helping to close the gap. “It echoes the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister, who spoke about how the solution to closing the gap rests within the imagination, the ingenuity, the passion and the drive of Indigenous people themselves, with government the enabler of their success. “We must also seek common ground, the Prime Minister said, guided by the values that make us all Australians, values of mutual respect, equality and equal treatment under the law,”

Ms Wicks said. Source: Hansard transcript, Feb 14 Lucy Wicks, Member for Robertson

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