The Australian Government, on behalf of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), is asking all Australians for their views to help construct the next phase of the Closing the Gap agenda and has released a COAG discussion paper to support ongoing consultations that have been held this year and will continue into 2018.
Over the past decade, important progress has been made in improving health, employment and education outcomes for First Australians since Australian governments agreed to a Closing the Gap framework to address Indigenous disadvantage.
However, it is clear that the Closing the Gap agenda can be better designed and more effectively delivered. This is a view shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, governments and the broader community.
In 2008, the original Closing the Gap targets were developed without consultation from Indigenous Australians and without the direct involvement of state and territory governments – which meant targets were not as effective or as well directed as they should have been.
A new approach to Closing the Gap must value the aspirations, strengths and successes of First Australians. Importantly, it must be built on meaningful conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
New Closing the Gap targets will drive better outcomes for Indigenous communities because, for the first time, state and territory governments will establish targets in areas for which they are responsible and all targets will be designed to drive change, with specific action plans to support targets.
Consultations have been ongoing for a number of months including through specific roundtables held in Broome, Dubbo and Cairns in November and December 2017. More sessions are scheduled across the nation in the coming months. Consultations will also continue with national peak bodies, and regional and local engagements led by state and territory governments.
We are committed to working with First Australians, state and territory governments and the broader community to develop a meaningful and robust framework for the future, and encourage all Australians to share their views. Visit closingthegaprefresh.pmc.gov.au to access the discussion paper and find out more.