Joint Council on Closing the Gap meets on Gadigal Country
The ninth meeting of Joint Council on Closing the Gap was held on Gadigal Country (Sydney) today, with representatives of the Coalition of Peaks attending alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs ministers from all jurisdictions and a representative from the Australian Local Government Association.
Joint Council is responsible for overseeing implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and reporting annually to First Ministers, and is Co-chaired by Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, and the Hon Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians. Face-to-face meetings assist with leadership, cooperation, and coordination.
Prior to Joint Council commencing, the Coalition of Peaks welcomed the announcement by Minister Burney of 52 projects receiving funding under the Major Capital Program as part of the Closing the Gap health infrastructure measure.
“I am pleased to see that this funding is being delivered consistent with the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement, where programs and services are developed in partnership with our people and funding is delivered through our community-controlled organisations”, said Ms Turner.
During the meeting, Joint Council Members agreed that urgent and accelerated action is needed to:
- identify an independent mechanism or mechanisms with oversight of the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions to be culturally safe and respectful of their engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Priority Reform Three)
- progress data and information sharing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at a regional level (Priority Reform Four), and
- address Closing the Gap targets currently identified as not on track.
“The Coalition of Peaks can only do so much”, Ms Turner said. “Our success, and the success of the National Agreement, depend on the responses of governments. Work needs to accelerate across the board.
“For the first time, this new National Agreement on Closing the Gap focuses on the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and all governments in Australia. Its success requires governments to accept this and proceed with strengthening all such relationships to achieve meaningful outcomes at community level.
“The Mayi Kuwayu study (MK study) released by Professor Ray Lovett and his team at the ANU this week found that interpersonal racism is common and has substantial negative impact on the health and wellbeing of our people.
“The MK study showed that 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experienced high or very high psychological distress, compared to 13% of non-Indigenous adults, and concluded that eliminating everyday discrimination could halve the burden of psychological distress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. This would have a positive impact on many of the Closing the Gap Targets.
“I hope that the renewed focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the commitment for structural reform to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as partners in decision-making that we’re currently seeing leads to increased action on the National Agreement next year”, said Ms Turner.
At the meeting, Joint Council also:
- approved the establishment of policy partnerships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and housing and heard an update from the Justice and Early Childhood Care and Development policy partnerships.
- considered an analysis of all Parties’ Annual Reports, looking at where Parties could work better together.
- heard from Government Parties on their progress working with Jurisdictional Peaks to finalise a new socio-economic target for inland waters.
Joint Council will meet again in June 2023 to continue to progress further actions under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
Download the communique from Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting.
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