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Summary of key outcomes in the Report

Key themes include family, learning and skills, opportunity and prosperity, health and wellbeing, justice and safety, culture and Country.

Children, family and home

  • Immunisation rates for Aboriginal children continue to increase and are the highest they have ever been. 96.8% of Aboriginal 5 year olds were immunised in 2018, which is higher than the rate of all Victorian 5 year olds (95.5%).
  • Perinatal mortality rates for babies born to Aboriginal mothers has dropped significantly over the last decade, from 23.6 per 1,000 in 2008-10 to 11.5 per 1000 in 2016-18 (per 1,000). However, the rate is still higher than for non-Aboriginal mothers.
  • Aboriginal children remain over-represented in care at more than 20 times the rate of non-Aboriginal children. The increase in numbers is partly due to changes in data collection methodology, including improved identification and recording of Aboriginal status. Nonetheless, these figures are concerning. However, there have been substantial increases in the number of Aboriginal children in care who are placed with relatives, kin and/or Aboriginal carers and the number of Aboriginal children and young people on contractible orders managed by ACCOs.

Learning and skills

  • There have been substantial improvements in NAPLAN literacy and numeracy areas for Aboriginal students. The percentage of Aboriginal students in the top three bands for NAPLAN Reading increased from 2008 to 2019 for all years (3, 5, 7 and 9). The percentage of Aboriginal students in the top three bands in NAPLAN numeracy increased across Years 5, 7, and 9 during the same period.
  • In line with the Victorian Government’s commitment to increase the number of Aboriginal language programs in kindergartens and schools, in 2019, 17 government schools were teaching an Aboriginal language. This is a significant improvement from 2010, when only one school offered an Aboriginal language program.
  • With a 99.9% enrolment rate, Aboriginal children are enrolled in kindergarten in the year before school at near universal level. However, Aboriginal students’ school attendance rates have decreased across all years of schooling from 2014-2019. The impact of COVID-19 has further exacerbated the existing disparity in school attendance rate between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cohort.

Opportunity and prosperity

  • The Aboriginal business sector continues to thrive, contributing to growth in economic prosperity for Aboriginal Victorians and the wider State. The number of Aboriginal businesses that the Victorian government entered into a purchase agreement with increased by 35% in the past 12 months.
  • Under the Jobs Victoria Employment Network (JVEN) program, the Victorian Government funded several training and employment linkage programs to support Aboriginal jobseekers. In 2019, 303 Aboriginal jobseekers secured JVEN placements, which is 24.1% higher than the previous year.
  • In 2019, Aboriginal people on Victorian Government boards increased by 15.4%, which contributed to the goal of increasing Aboriginal leadership and representation across all sectors and levels.

Health and wellbeing

  • Aboriginal Victorians are living longer, and there are growing rates of individuals reporting that they have excellent or very good health. During the period 2017-19, 44.5% of Aboriginal Victorians rated their own health as 'excellent' or 'very good' compared to 36.9 per cent in 2014-15.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia. While the proportion of Aboriginal Victorians who smoke daily is still high (36% in 2017-19), there has been a long-term downward trend in daily smoking (down from 47% in 2004–05).
  • In the five-year period 2013-17 inclusive, the incidence rate (per 10,000) of cancer in Aboriginal women decreased slightly from 498.5 to 494.6 in the previous five-year cycle.
  • In 2018-19, Aboriginal Victorians of all ages presented at hospital emergency departments for self-harm related reasons at a rate 5 times higher than non-Aboriginal Victorians. Similarly, Aboriginal Victorians accessing community mental health care services was 3.5 times higher than non-Aboriginal Victorians.

Justice and safety

  • Aboriginal Victorians remain over-represented in both the adult and youth justice systems. In 2019-20, Aboriginal young people (10-17 years) were almost six times more likely to be processed by police as alleged offenders than the non-Aboriginal cohort. During the same period, Aboriginal women were nearly 11 times and men were 6 times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to be processed by police for an alleged offence.
  • While Aboriginal young people remain over-represented in the youth justice system, there has been some recent decline in the average daily number and rate of Aboriginal young people under youth justice community-based supervision. Between 2008-09 and 2018-19, the average daily number of Aboriginal young people (10-17 years) under youth justice community-based supervision dropped from 112 to 89.
  • Since 2007-08, the number of Aboriginal people employed across the justice system has increased significantly. The proportion of Aboriginal people employed across DJCS and Court Services Victoria now exceeds the public sector target of 2% by 2022, while Aboriginal cultural safety training continues to be rolled out across Victoria Police with 15.5% of police officers having received Aboriginal cultural training as at 30 June 2020.

Culture and Country

  • In 2019-20, native title is recognised across 14,899 square kilometres of land in Victoria. A further 50,976 square kilometres of land is recognised under Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 agreements, which is a significant increase from 30,766 square kilometres in 2018-19.
  • The Victorian Government has committed to advancing treaty with Aboriginal Victorians as an essential step in enabling self-determination. In July 2020, the Victorian Government also committed to a truth and justice process to formally recognise past wrongs and address ongoing injustices experienced by Aboriginal Victorians. This process, which will be led by the independent Yoo-rrook Justice Commission (Commission), will be the first of its kind anywhere in Australia and represents a significant step forward on Victoria’s path towards treaty.