Of the 3.5 million Australians living in poverty, Indigenous Australians are the most profoundly affected.
This can be seen across a range of indicators such as infant mortality, illness and life expectancy, educational participation and achievement, employment and housing.
Recent focus has been placed on the need to close the gap between the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Addressing Indigenous health needs is an important part of this, but what is required to really 'close the gap' are actions that lift Indigenous families and communities out of poverty: creating opportunities for education, employment, better incomes and home ownership.
In many parts of remote Australia, mining is a major source of economic activity. Mines and Indigenous communities exist side-by-side, but historically economic benefits have flowed away from local communities and out to the capital cities.
Engagement with mining companies is an emerging area that offers considerable potential for socio-economic development in Indigenous communities. World Vision is exploring opportunities for job-readiness programs and partnerships between mining companies and Indigenous land councils and community-controlled trusts.
Access to clean, safe and secure housing is a key factor in socio-economic wellbeing. Household security is a key contributor to the wellbeing of children. Indigenous home ownership on communal lands is a contentious issue but where families and communities do aspire to home ownership, and where there is no risk of the land being removed from community control, this aspiration deserves support.
Elsewhere, the Indigenous art market is a source of some income for Indigenous communities. But as a recent Senate inquiry into the Indigenous art market confirmed, most of the proceeds from this multi-million dollar industry are currently enjoyed by investors, entrepreneurs and gallery owners, not Indigenous artists.
Indigenous artists are often vulnerable to exploitation and can struggle to access markets for their work. Through our Indigenous Art Program, World Vision is helping to build the capacity of local community art centres and support the career development of Indigenous artists.
World Vision is committed to working in partnership with Indigenous communities to implement socio-economic development programs that build pathways to sustainable livelihoods and a greater quality of life.