Measuring and analysing success for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Author/editor: Nicholas Biddle, Matthew Gray & Jerry Schwab
Year published: 2017
Issue no.: 122


The Closing the Gap targets feature heavily in the current policy measurement framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at both the national and state/territory levels. The targets provide concrete measures against which trends in changes in outcomes for the Indigenous population relative to those for the non-Indigenous population can be assessed. Although relative outcomes for the Indigenous population have improved for some of the targets, overall there has been a failure to achieve virtually all of the targets. There are also concerns that the Closing the Gap measures are resulting in an overly negative assessment of progress in improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians, and that they entrench a ‘deficits’ view of the Indigenous population.

The aim of this paper is to provide helpful information to consider when assessing alternative frameworks for measuring and targeting success. We consider how to define success for Indigenous individuals, families and communities; what are the key determinants of success for Indigenous Australians; what are some of the areas of success within the seven target areas and more broadly; and what are the implications for frameworks for measuring success.

Keywords: Closing the Gap, measurement, wellbeing

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