Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda has told people to be patient about strategies to close the gap.
12 Feb 2014 - 7:58 AM  UPDATED 12 Feb 2014 - 8:31 AM

A leading indigenous leader warns there needs to be some dramatic improvements in reaching Closing the Gap targets during the next few years.

But Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda also cautions "our side" to be patient as long-term strategies kick in and take effect.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday will hand down a mixed report card on Australia's efforts to improve indigenous life expectancy, school attendance and employment rates.

There has been a small improvement in life expectancy, reducing a gap of 11.5 years between indigenous and non-indigenous men and 9.7 years between women.

But efforts will need to be accelerated to meet a 2031 deadline.

Reducing the gap in child mortality rates within a decade and improving Year 12 attainment rates are on track.

Those trends have been welcomed by Mr Gooda who praised the bipartisan political support for Closing the Gap.

"As Tony Abbott said last year, it's parliament at its best," he told ABC Radio.

The latest report contained some good results on progress to meeting targets, but also some not-so-good results.

"In the next couple of years we've got to start seeing some dramatic improvements."

Mr Gooda cited "appalling" school attendance rates as one of the biggest problems facing indigenous communities.