The report sums up progress over the past decade as follows:
(Closing the Gap, Report 2020)
The Report’s coverage of the National Indigenous employment rate does not mention the role of Aboriginal business and the IPP in employment, or the impact these could have on the numbers moving forward.
IPS Directors Kristal Kinsela-Christie and Jahna Cedar spoke about the policy changes needed to support the sector moving forward at the House Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs earlier this week, shortly before the Closing the Gap report was released. The Indigenous businesses present in Canberra for the Committee and the Supply Nation Indigenous Trade Fair were not notified about the impending release of the report at the time.
At the Committee, Kristal challenged government on the use of the mandatory set aside of the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP), and how 64 per cent of IPP contracts were valued at 10k or less, which was not a realistic opportunity for scaleable growth.
Kristal was involved in the Closing the Gap Refresh process in 2018. At the time she strongly advocated for the important role of Indigenous business and entrepreneurship in supporting Aboriginal communities, and for every state and territory to have IPP policies. She was also part of a co-design group who worked on developing new targets.
“After being involved in the Closing the Gap refresh, I am disappointed that we have not finalised new targets, communicated about how data will be accurately captured and we are still talking from a deficit model,” Kristal said.
“I strongly advocated for entrepreneurship to have a target that extends from the IPP and draws all the state and territories with the Commonwealth in together towards great outcomes on Indigenous business.”
Jahna said her biggest concern was that the Government had failed to involve Indigenous people in the decision making and service provision, to assist meeting Closing the Gap targets.
“We are talking about Aboriginal people as 100 per cent more likely to stay employed when working for an Aboriginal business, then of course this should be seen as a solution. Supply Nation research shows that for every dollar of revenue, Indigenous businesses create $4.41 of economic and social value,” she said.
“Our first nations people are the experts in co-designed programs. They need to be included in the discussion and lead project implementation. Enough talk of self-determination. Lets walk it, together, unified. It is astounding that rates of Indigenous disadvantage shows just two of seven goals are on track - pre-school education and Year 12 attainment - yet the mortality rates for Indigenous children under five have widened to more than twice the rate for non-Indigenous children.
“Also of great concern is the reactive (and extremely slow response) to the national suicide epidemic. It is almost a suicide a week, if not more. We are losing our babies way too early because of the stigma against talking about feelings, fear of bullying and possible lack of services. When will a national enquiry and urgent action take place?”
The Closing the Gap report talks extensively about placing a greater emphasis on partnership, and sharing ownership to improve life outcomes rather than reporting against government-mandated targets. Strengthening Indigenous business is the key to achieving this, and to driving outcomes for people and communities across Australia.