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5 Shocking Indigenous Facts Students Should Know

Is the next generation being educated enough to stop Indigenous disparity?

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Reconciliation Australia (RA), a not-for-profit organisation with a mandate to foster positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, today launched a nationwide initiative to promote tolerance and acceptance in schools.

RA wants schools around the country to adopt a stronger focus on Indigenous Australian history and issues.

Justin Mohamed, RA CEO, told BuzzFeed News, "we hope that the next generation and the generation that comes behind them again won't have to tolerate racism, won't have to tolerate the sad statistics that are out at the moment."

The Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning program, was developed by RA over two years. Ultimately the onus will be on individual state governments to implement the program.

Mr Mohamed said that, “Many schools believe they don't need to participate because there are no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kids at their school," He says. "This couldn't be further from the truth. Every Australian school and early learning service can join the Narragunnawali community to help all children to understand, respect and have pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures,”

Mr Mohamed hopes that a more pro-active education system, which actively highlights Indigenous history, could end the massive disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through awareness and empathy.

"The schooling system is a great way to change the wrongs, stereotypes and negative attitudes."

That disparity is still growing - here are five facts of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that every Australian should be educated on according to Reconciliation Australia.

1. Indigenous Australians die younger.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can expect to die younger than the rest of the population.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that Indigenous men can expect to live to 69 years. That's a decade earlier than non-Indigenous men, who have an average life expectancy of 79 years.

Indigenous women can expect to live to 73 years, while non-Indigenous women can expect to live ten years longer, until they are 83.

2. Racism is rife in Australia.

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A national study on the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by the ABS found that more than a quarter of the Indigenous population aged over 15 had experienced discrimination based on their race. The most common type of discrimination came from the general public and from police.

One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged between 4 - 14 reported being bullied at school because they were Indigenous.

3. Prison is full of Indigenous people.

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Indigenous people only account for 2% of the population, but they make up almost 30% of the Australian prison population.

You're more likely to find Indigenous people in prison than university. Studies show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more likely to be sitting behind bars than sitting in a lecture hall.

4. Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate.

Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Statistics show that Indigenous Australians are six times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population.

The Kimberley region in Western Australia, which is predominantly Aboriginal, has one of the highest suicide rates (per-capita) in the world. Children as young as 12 are taking their own lives.

5. Shocking literacy and numeracy rates.

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Literacy rates among Indigenous children is the lowest in the country. Up to 60% of Aboriginal children in remote communities have below average literacy skills.

A 2010 report by right-leaning think tank, the Centre of Independent Studies found that on average, Indigenous students trail mainstream students by six years in national numeracy and literacy tests. Scores by year nine Indigenous students were similar to results by non-Indigenous students in year three.

30% of Indigenous adults do not have adequate literacy skills, meaning they cannot read or write at an adequate level.

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