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Governments need to urgently fulfil their commitments and implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in full

The Productivity Commission’s latest paper published as part of its Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, Review Paper 3 – What we have heard to date, highlights the urgent need for governments to fulfil their commitments on the agreement’s implementation.

Released today, Review Paper 3 summarises views from 69 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, peaks, councils and regional authorities, service providers and other organisations, and some government agencies and non-government organisations on how the National Agreement is being implemented.  

There remains broad support for the National Agreement, but the report from the Productivity Commission shows that government implementation is patchy and slow, and where limited progress has been made on implementing the Priority Reforms. There is a lack of understanding about what shared decision-making means; there has been limited progress to support our community-controlled organisations and build and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce; institutional racism remains unaddressed; and access to quality and meaningful data is still limited.

Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor, Patricia Turner AM, isn’t surprised by the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that contributed to the Productivity Commission’s review.

“The Coalition of Peaks has been encouraged by some progress of governments to embrace and implement the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement, but overall effort is patchy. It’s not what we had hoped and not in line with the commitments made by governments. Governments are behind on several commitments, and some actions have been addressed in a cursory way that has not led to genuine change,” Ms Turner said.

“At National Cabinet last week, the Prime Minister along with all other First Ministers re-committed to the National Agreement. This is welcome and necessary for change, but we are not seeing this support translate on the ground in the way governments work with our communities and organisations.

“We are still seeing too many instances of governments picking and choosing when and how they apply the Priority Reforms.

“What we saw in the immediate response to the situation in Alice Springs is particularly illustrative of my concerns. Governments rushing in, panicking, and making hasty decisions without first negotiating with Aboriginal leaders.

“Along with many other respected leaders in the NT, I spoke publicly about the situation and what Governments needed to do to achieve improved outcomes. I then raised my concerns directly with the National Cabinet and with the NT Chief Minister. I am now confident they will go forward in addressing the situation in full partnership with local Aboriginal leaders in the NT.

“The further investment by both Governments needs to be sufficient and sustained. We are dealing with decades of neglect in housing, infrastructure, and service delivery in our communities, so it will necessarily take a sustained effort by the tripartite partnership to ensure change is occurring for the better.

“The life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the success of the National Agreement, depends on governments transforming the way they work.  

“Knowing there is support from all First Ministers, I am hopeful that governments, together with the Coalition of Peaks, can turn this situation around and implement the National Agreement in full,” Ms Turner said.

The Coalition of Peaks is made up of 80 peak organisations that represent some 800 organisations that provide services to more than 550,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. Our authority is derived from our extensive membership base. Our representatives are elected to boards by their communities and represent our people using generations of experience.

Media contact: Clare Butterfield, Communications Manager, 0429 098 613,