Closing the Gap: Hinch says a 'firehose' of funds needed, not a 'trickle'

Senators say a critical review released to mark a decade of the Closing the Gap strategy needs to be taken seriously to improve Indigenous lives.

File image: Justice Party Senator Derryn Hinch in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra

File image: Justice Party Senator Derryn Hinch in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra Source: AAP

A "firehose" of funds pumped out of Canberra for Indigenous programs is just a trickle by the time it reaches communities, an elder once told crossbench senator Derryn Hinch.

Ten years after the Closing the Gap policy was created with the aim of improving Indigenous lives, a damning review is asking why six of its seven targets are not on track.

"What we have to do, is find out why that trickle isn't a firehose anymore," Senator Hinch told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

The review by the Close the Gap Campaign found that the strategy was "effectively abandoned" after five years.

It called for a reset and recommitted levels of investment in areas such as Indigenous health.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds says Australia's history shows closing the gap is incredibly difficult, but she is confident progress is possible.

"This is an issue that has bedevilled many, many governments for decades," she said.

"This is an issue that everybody, on a bipartisan basis, has to work together. There are no easy solutions."

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong says the Closing the Gap Campaign's claim that the government had effectively abandoned the policy is "deeply concerning".

"Let's remember that one of the first things that the government did when coming to government was to cut funding for our First Peoples," she said.

"That is going to have an effect."

It is extremely disappointing to see a loss of bipartisanship on progressing reconciliation, she says.

Opposition colleague Doug Cameron says he spoke to Indigenous mayors from North Queensland on Wednesday.

"They are very concerned about the lack of support that this coalition is giving them in the context of housing," he said.

Senator Cameron says a Labor government will have a good look at the Uluru Statement of the Heart, which was largely rejected by the government last year.

"Given the history of colonisation in this country, the Indigenous groups are correct in saying this should be looked at," he said.

"They were encouraged to go and do it and when they've done it, this coalition has walked away."

Published 8 February 2018 at 10:54am, updated 8 February 2018 at 11:15am