A new government has come to power after almost a decade. The previous Liberal Party did little to close the disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people but does Labor deserve the title it bestowed upon itself as the leader in Indigenous rights?
While serving as prime minister from 2007-2010, Kevin Rudd made national and international headlines for apologising to Indigenous Australians for past injustices.
However, he did little to address the number of Indigenous children being forcefully removed from their families during his tenure.
Federal Labor MP Linda Burney and the Albanese Government are now pushing for a referendum to establish a voice to parliament, which is a grand symbolic gesture.
Still, there are no actual returns on investment or tangible outcomes for Indigenous justice or any economic progression.
Compared to other countries perceived as more progressive and Indigenous-friendly, New Zealand and Canada have implemented more tangible policies and regulations on Indigenous justice and economic outcomes but have still failed.
Our government must not rely on public relations efforts to address First Nations’ needs.
The government must take meaningful steps to effect positive change in the Indigenous rights arena.
This is especially true of Australia, which has long been behind other countries on an international level regarding Indigenous rights.
Ongoing research shows a link between poverty and lower health and social issues.
Some experts are even saying that the latest Australian census data linking income level and health outcomes is unsurprising, and there needs to be more of a focus on changing these circumstances for people living in poverty.
The primary concern is that economic inequality can cause social and psychological stress in communities, leaving people more vulnerable to poor health.
I contacted Ms Burney’s office to ask her about the government’s plan to increase access to capital, which is one of the biggest challenges Indigenous people face in breaking the poverty cycle.
I also asked if her government would push Australian banks to lend more.
Unfortunately, the Labor government didn’t seem to prioritise the outcomes of its policies in terms of measurable economic effects.
The Labor government announced its intention to continue funding Indigenous Business Australia, established in March 1990 and has received hundreds of millions of dollars annually in taxpayer funding.
However, it has done little to improve Indigenous people’s poverty levels.
Our new government seems to be carrying on with the same thinking, policies, and system that has not achieved much in closing the disparity gaps.
The major banks have annually provided trillions of dollars in gross lending value for housing-related loans.
A modest target of three per cent of the loan amount would be enough to provide more housing loans than the government currently achieves with its annual funding for IBA, and it wouldn’t require taxpayer money.
Some people will argue that debt is a cause of poverty.
Still, most Australians would agree that not having access to capital and the opportunity to break the poverty cycle is killing more Indigenous people than having money.
To achieve tangible economic progress, the Labor government needs to work with the most profitable banks in the world to solve the access to capital.
- Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and Founder at Barayamal (Black Swan)