Closing the Gap aims to improve the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Since 2008, Australian governments have worked together to deliver better health, education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to eliminate the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
In December 2018, COAG committed to forming a genuine formal partnership with Indigenous Australians to finalise the Closing the Gap Refresh and provide a forum for ongoing engagement throughout implementation of the new agenda. The partnership will be based on mutual respect between parties and an acceptance that direct engagement and negotiation is the preferred pathway to productive and effective outcomes.
The arrangements for the formal partnership between COAG and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation will be settled by the end of February 2019, and will include a Joint Council on Closing the Gap, with Ministers nominated by jurisdictions and representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
COAG also released a draft Closing the Gap framework, including draft targets, accountabilities and reporting requirements as a basis for further discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples and communities.
By mid-2019, ahead of endorsement by COAG, the partnership – working through the Joint Council – will:
- Finalise all draft targets.
- Review the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.
- Develop an independent, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led approach to the three-yearly comprehensive evaluation and review of progress nationally and in each jurisdiction.
The journey to truly close the gap is one for every Australian to walk. Together, through aspiration, mutual respect and genuine partnership, we can achieve a safe and prosperous future for all.
Families, children and youth
Justice, including youth justice
Land and water
Cross system priorities
The draft framework issued by COAG addresses racism, discrimination and social inclusion, healing and trauma, and the promotion of culture and language for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as cross system priorities requiring action and responses across all target areas.
The targets and potential cross system priorities will be finalised through the formal partnership between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and Indigenous Australians through their representatives.
Through the development of draft targets it became apparent that some priority areas have wide reaching impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. These priority areas include culture, racism and discrimination, trauma and healing, disability and social inclusion. While there was universal agreement on the importance of these issues and acknowledgement that they influence outcomes in all other target areas, there were differing views on whether setting a target for such priorities was appropriate and also what such a target might be.
All Australian governments recognise the need to address intergenerational change, racism, discrimination and social inclusion (including in relation to disability, gender and LGBTIQ+), healing and trauma, and the promotion of culture and language for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.