Closing the Gap: Indigenous health outcomes an 'embarrassment for far too long'

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Tony Abbott has pledged the government’s commitment to improving Indigenous health and education ahead of his annual Closing the Gap speech in Parliament today.

Tony Abbott has outlined the government's aim to achieve spiritual and practical reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia at a breakfast event ahead of his annual Closing the Gap speech in Parliament.

Speaking today in Canberra, Mr Abbott said the government was committed to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

"There is no more important cause than ensuring Indigenous people enter fully into their rightful inheritance as the first Australians and as first-class citizens of this great country," he said.

But he admitted that Indigenous health outcomes had been an "embarrassment for far too long" and the government had "so much more to do".

Mr Abbott said that better health outcomes would not be achieved only by establishing better services.

"Good health takes place in a social content and if we are going to ensure that Indigenous health approximates that of the Australian community, there is so much that has to be done across a whole lot of policy areas," he said.

"We also accept that reconciliation must be spiritual as well as practical if it is to be meaningful."

"We accept that indigenous people need to feel that they are a part of this great country, every bit as much as members of Parliament."

The Closing the Gap report will be released today and Mr Abbott is expected to confirm that Australia is failing to meet many of its targets.

Limited progress has been made on improving life expectancy, while there has been no improvement in primary school literacy and numeracy.

Early childhood education targets have not been met and a push to halve the gap in employment outcomes has failed.

The prime minister will reportedly express his "disappointment" in the lack of progress.

- With AAP

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