The first inquiry of the Standing Committee on Social Issues in the new Parliament will examine the policies and programs aimed at addressing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Committee will conduct an audit of these policies and programs and seek meaningful assessment of their effectiveness in closing that gap. The inquiry was referred to the Committee by the Hon Paul Lynch, MP, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs reports this media Release from Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues Chair Ian West on 12th September 2007.

Chair Ian West MLC said, “The scope of the Committee’s inquiry is very challenging and far reaching. The Committee will consider the impact of health, education, employment and housing on Indigenous disadvantage.”

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that, based on available data, in 2005 the estimated Indigenous life expectancy is 59 years for males and 65 years for females. This is about 17 years below life expectancy for all males and females respectively.”

Mr West continued, “The inquiry terms of reference ask us to look at the policies and programs operating in New South Wales and Australia that are aimed at closing the acute life expectancy gap, as well as successful programs internationally, for example in New Zealand, Canada and North and South America.”

“The Committee will also investigate opportunities for strengthening cultural resilience within Indigenous communities, focusing on language, cultural identity and self determination.”

“Importantly, as part of its inquiry, the Committee will assess the Government’s progress in implementing recommendations from previous Social Issues Committee reports” Mr West said.

Mr West said, “On behalf of the Committee I’d like to encourage interested people and organisations to contribute to this very important inquiry.”

The Committee is to produce an interim report by 30 June 2008 and a final report by 30 November 2008.

For further information, including how to make a submission to this inquiry and copies of the terms of reference, please contact the Committee secretariat on 02 9230 3078 or via email to . It is also possible to lodge a submission via the NSW Parliament website at . The closing date for submissions is 30

November 2007. For further comment please contact Ian West MLC, Committee Chair, on 9230 2126.


Terms of Reference

1. That the Standing Committee on Social Issues inquire into and report on:

(a) policies and programs being implemented both within Australia (States/Territories/Federal) and internationally aimed at closing the gap between the lifetime expectancy between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people (currently estimated at 17 years), with the assessment of policies and programs including but not limited to: New Zealand, Canada, North America, South America, and also considering available reports and information from key NGOs and community organizations,

(b) the impact of the following factors on the current lifetime expectancy gap:

(i) environmental health (water, sewerage, waste, other)

(ii) health and wellbeing

(iii) education

(iv) employment

(v) housing

(vi) incarceration and the criminal justice system

(vii) other infrastructure,

(c) previous Social Issues committee reports containing reference to Aboriginal people – and assess the progress of government in implementing adopted report recommendations,

(d) the Federal Government intervention in the Northern Territory and advise on potential programs/initiatives that may or may not have relevance in terms of their application in New South Wales,

(e) opportunities for strengthening cultural resilience within Aboriginal communities in New South Wales with a focus on language, cultural identity, economic development and self determination, and

(f) the experiences of the outcomes of the COAG Murdi Paaki trial but also take into account the other COAG trials occurring across Australia and their outcomes/lessons learned.

2. That the Committee provide an interim report to the House by Monday 30 June 2008.

3. That the Committee provide a final report to the House by Friday 28 November 2008.