New National Agreement on Closing the Gap
The Coalition of Peaks together with Australian governments have signed the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement). The National Agreement has been built around what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people said is important to improve their lives. It includes four Priority Reforms to change the way governments work, new government accountability measures and shared monitoring and implementation arrangements. The National Agreement is available here
Under the Partnership Agreement, the Coalition of Peaks sat down with Australian governments and looked at what had and hadn’t been working on Closing the Gap over the last ten years, what things could be strengthened and needed to be changed.
The Coalition of Peaks and governments agreed that the National Indigenous Reform Agreement – an Agreement signed by Australian governments in 2008 that set out the original Closing the Gap strategy – needed to be replaced by a new National Agreement built around what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying is needed to improve their lives; and to be signed off by the Coalition of Peaks and Australian governments.
On the 3rd of July 2020, the Joint Council met to discuss the final draft of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It is the first National Agreement of its kind; it has been developed in genuine partnership between the Coalition of Peaks and Australian Governments.
The National Agreement was informed by a comprehensive engagement process, led by the Coalition of Peaks, in late 2019 with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country on what should be included.
The National Agreement sets out a strategy to close the gap that is strongly based on, and underpinned by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It is built around four new Priority Reforms about transforming the way governments work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to improve outcomes. The Priority Reforms were overwhelmingly supported during the engagements.
The Priority Reforms are:
- Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap.
- Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs in agreed focus areas.
- Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap, improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to monitor the implementation of the Priority Reforms, the Closing the Gap targets and drive local priorities.
The National Agreement includes commitments to tangible actions from all governments to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and give effect to the four Priority Reforms. All four Priority Reforms have a target to measure government action in these areas.
The National Agreement also establishes 16 national socio-economic targets in areas including education, employment, health and well-being, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The targets will help to monitor progress in improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. New engagement and accountability mechanisms are included in the draft National Agreement that mean jurisdictions will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the Agreement and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will have an ongoing say in how the National Agreement is working for them.