The Coalition of Peaks want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations across Australia to be fully engaged and take ownership of the new Closing the Gap strategy. This is fundamental to improving the life outcomes of our people; making sure our communities’ priorities are at the centre of Closing the Gap; and holding governments accountable for the actions they commit to.
At the heart of the Coalition of Peaks are the voices and priorities of our communities! We want to hear from you, about what is working in your communities and what can be improved to support efforts with Australian governments to close the gap.
As community-controlled organisations, the Coalition of Peaks work for and are accountable to our communities.
The Coalition of Peaks are informed by our memberships and communities in the work we do, our deliberations and the positions we take to governments. When we get to the table with governments we have considered and reflect the voices of our extensive memberships.
In addition to the voices of our memberships, to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were able to have a say about the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Coalition of Peaks led a series of engagements in late 2019.
The Coalition of Peaks, in partnership with governments, led a comprehensive engagement process between September and December 2019 on what should be included in the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Coalition of Peaks have now released a full report on the engagements.
Nearly 1700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people responded to an online survey, while more than 2300 individuals attended over 70 face-to-face meetings that were held in cities, regional towns and remote communities in every state and territory.
The primary focus of the engagements was on three proposed priority reforms to change the way Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
- To develop and strengthen structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in shared decision making, embedding their ownership, responsibility, and expertise to Close the Gap
- To build formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service sectors to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs
- To ensure all mainstream government agencies and institutions that service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap
New Closing the Gap targets were also discussed, including reviewing the targets agreed in draft by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in December 2018.
The engagements demonstrate a new way of working between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Australian governments by putting the voices of communities at the centre of the development of the new National Agreement.
Key findings of the engagements
- The three priority reforms were overwhelmingly supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in the engagements for inclusion in the National Agreement.
- An additional, fourth priority reform emerged on shared access to and use of data and information to support decision making by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments.
- New Closing the Gap targets are needed, such as for the preservation of culture and languages, and existing targets need to be further developed, such as to expand health targets to include mental health and suicide prevention.
In relation to the Priority Reforms feedback included:
- The importance of establishing and maintaining formal partnerships, such as agreements, between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, were an important way of achieving priority reform one and were needed at a national, state/territory and regional/local level.
- Priority areas for developing and strengthening formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service sectors, in response to priority reform two, included housing, aged care and disability support.
- Priority reform three requires mainstream service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be reformed to address systemic racism and promote cultural safety, and to be held much more accountable.
- The need to build on the national structure of the Coalition of Peaks to allow state/territory-based coalitions of peak bodies to develop where they do not currently exist.
- Improving engagement by governments with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on changes to policies and programs to ensure it is done fully and transparently.
On 16 January 2020, the Coalition of Peaks also released a Community Engagement Snapshot which provided a high-level summary of what was heard during the engagements. The snapshot was accompanied by an independent review of the quality and effectiveness of the engagements. It concluded that the “campaign to mobilise the community to participate in the engagements was effective” and that the “engagements were open, fair and transparent”.
To read the more about the engagements follow the links:
The Coalition of Peaks are negotiating with Australian governments to make sure the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap includes an ongoing and formal way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to continue to have a say about the implementation of the Closing the Gap strategy, how it is working in your communities and for your organisations.
When it is finalised, we will develop practical resources on the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap that you can use in your communities and organisations to inform your priorities and your discussions with governments.