“We want for our children the same opportunities and choices other Australians expect for their children. We want them to succeed in mainstream Australia, achieving educational success, prospering in the economy and living long, safe and healthy lives. We want them to retain their distinct cultures, languages and identities as peoples and to be recognised as Indigenous Australians.”
Empowered Communities, Vision Statement
As the Closing the Gap strategy explicitly recognises, health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians lag significantly behind those of non-Indigenous Australians. In 2008 the Australian Government pledged to close the gap in between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The specific targets were to:
- Close the life expectancy gap within a generation
- Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade
- Ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities within five years
- Halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 attainment rates by 2020
- Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade
Although a small amount of progress has been made in some areas, there are still significant and unacceptable gaps in health, education and employment outcomes between Indigenous girls and non-Indigenous girls. In a wealthy country like Australia, this is unacceptable.
Evidence shows that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls face a significant challenges as a result of a range of complex factors, including dispossession, racism, and the impact of intergenerational trauma. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women are:
- 68% more likely not to survive to age five
- 1 x more likely to be born with low birthweight
- 8 x more likely to be the subject of substantiated abuse or neglect
- 5 x more likely to be from a single parent family
- 19 x more likely to be incarcerated between ages 10-17
- 3 x more likely to have a child while in their teens
- 3 x more likely to experience sexual violence
- 2 x more likely to drop out of high school
- 36% less likely to be employed
Just over 50 per cent of Indigenous girls complete secondary school, as compared to more than 80 per cent of non-Indigenous girls. This gap in education attainment leads to significant economic and social disadvantage for Indigenous young women.
Stars aims to close the gap by supporting Indigenous girls to reach their full potential in all areas of their development and wellbeing.