The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish the Joint Council on Closing the Gap in December 2018 as a key part of its commitment to a formal partnership on Closing the Gap with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This commitment recognises that shared decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their representative organisations, in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Closing the Gap framework is essential to closing the gap in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Joint Council includes ministers from each jurisdiction, twelve members of the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, and one representative of the Local Government Association. It is the first COAG Council to include members from outside governments and represents an historic step forward in the working relationship between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Joint Council supports national leadership, coordination and cooperation on Closing the Gap and provides advice to COAG as appropriate. During 2019, the Joint Council will finalise the refreshed Closing the Gap framework and targets, and review the 2008 National Indigenous Reform Agreement for the agreement of COAG. It will then have an ongoing role in monitoring performance against and implementation of the jointly agreed framework and targets.
The Joint Council met for the first time on 27 March 2019 in Brisbane.