Closing the Gap: Persuasive Criticisms


The Australian government expected to enhance the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s quality of life by creating a Closing the Gap campaign. The expected improvements were related to health, life expectancy, education, and employment. Starting in 2008, this program set seven targets but met only two of them by 2019. As a result, the Closing the Gap framework received criticism due to its failure in achieving goals and a lack of cooperation with representatives of Indigenous Australians.

Unreached Targets

Closing the Gap program’s most significant and notable drawback is that the goals set were overly optimistic. Haughton (n.d.) concluded that unattainable changes were expected in an impossible time frame. The campaign set seven targets; some focused on health (increasing life expectancy, lowering child mortality), while others related to education (early education, school attendance, Year 12 attainment, literacy, and numeracy) and employment. As a result, only early education and Year 12 attainment goals are being worked through. Referring to Molla and Nolan (2019), the improvements regarding early education are still not sufficient despite the progress. The gap between Aboriginal and Torres Islander populations and non-Indigenous Australians is still considerable due to cultural exclusions and access constraints.

The promised but not reached changes are likely to worsen the Indigenous people’s lives throughout the time. For example, Oscar (2020) believes that campaign failures endanger Aboriginal lives. The indigenous population is more vulnerable to various diseases and lacks healthcare. Instead of the expected improvements, the failure to achieve the goals led to an increase in the number of imprisonments, homeless, unemployed, and a record number of suicides.

Insufficient Cooperation

One of the main reasons for the failure of the Closing the Gap campaign was the lack of government cooperation with the Indigenous people. The dominant society dictated its own rules without considering cultural counterfactuals with the second one (Altman, 2018). The government of Australia set the program’s primary targets without much involvement of the Indigenous population’s representatives, which led to failure. The existence of cultural differences and values, as well as the unwillingness to take them into account, entailed the creation of ineffective strategies. Subsequently, some researchers suggested that the campaign’s direction should be changed, and more attention should be devoted to the Indigenous population rather than to closing the gap between societies (Fisher et al., 2021). The criticism of this aspect led the government to accept the need for Aboriginal and Torres Islander people’s contribution. The next step was creating a renewed list of sixteen targets with the help of Indigenous representatives.


Improper planning and incorrect strategies led to the failure of reaching Closing the Gap’s targets. Aboriginal and Torres Islander people waited for perceptible improvements for more than ten years, but just two of seven goals were met. One of the government’s significant mistakes in this campaign was to ignore cooperation with the Indigenous population. Lack of understanding of the cultural differences entailed making incorrect decisions and wrong outcomes.


Altman, J. (2018). Beyond closing the gap: Valuing diversity in Indigenous Australia. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University.

Fisher, M., Mackean, T., George, E., Friel, S., & Baum, F. (2021). Stakeholder perceptions of policy implementation for Indigenous health and cultural safety: A study of Australia’s ‘Closing the Gap’ policies. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 80(2), 239-260.

Haughton, J. (n.d). Closing the Gap. Parliament of Australia. Web.

Molla, T., & Nolan, A. (2019). The problem of inequality in Australia’s early childhood education and care sector: A policy frame analysis. Australian Journal of Education, 63(3), 322-339.

Oscar, J. (2020). Failure to close the gap in healthcare puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at increased risk. Australian Human Rights Commission.

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DemoEssays. "Closing the Gap: Persuasive Criticisms." September 13, 2022.