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Indigenous health: radical hope or groundhog day?

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Professor Ernest Hunter explains why learning from the past and investing strategically will have the best chance of success

In his book Radical hope: education and equality in Australia, Aboriginal lawyer, academic and land rights activist Noel Pearson contends:

Governments and their bureaucracies are informed by everything other than memory of what was done five years ago, ten years ago and eighteen years ago. Politics are remembered, policies are not.1

It also includes his 2004 Judith Wright Memorial Lecture, in which, reflecting on the political forces necessary to drive national change in Indigenous affairs, he notes:

it will take a prime minister in the mould of Tony Abbott to lead the nation to settle the “unfinished business” between settler Australians and the other people who are members of this nation: the Indigenous people.1

A decade on, Tony Abbott, as Prime Minister, delivered the Closing the Gap report.2 Having identified that his government’s new engagements will involve centralising responsibility for Commonwealth-funded programs in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, setting up the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and fostering linkages between bureaucrats,…