Page last updated at 04:19 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 05:19 UK

Gap dividing Aborigines growing

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Aborigine with Australia flag, march by indigenous war veterans, Sydney April 08
Some indigenous Australians say the National Day is actually 'Invasion Day'

A national report on Aboriginal social and economic trends in Australia has shown their condition has deteriorated.

In particular it showed that the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens has grown wider in areas like child abuse and domestic violence.

It revealed that Aboriginal children are six times as likely to be abused as non-indigenous children.

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was a devastating report on an unacceptable situation.

The new government report contains a grim inventory of statistics, which indicate that the longstanding gap in living standards between black and white Australians is, if anything, getting wider.

One finding, that Aboriginal children are six times more likely than non-indigenous children to be abused, represents a significant increase.

The report also revealed that the indigenous homicide rate was seven times higher than the non-indigenous rate; and that Aboriginal people were 13 times more likely to end up in jail.

The report measured 50 key indicators of disadvantage, and found that there has been no improvement in 80% of them.

There have been no gains, for instance, in literacy or numeracy rates.

In an otherwise bleak assessment, one of the few areas of improvement was employment.

Mr Rudd started his term in office with an apology to Aborigines for past injustices and pledged that his government would aim to close the gap.

Speaking in the country's Northern Territory, the home to many Aborigines, Mr Rudd called this a devastating report which was unacceptable and required decisive action.

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