First Nations voices lead landmark report on Closing the Gap
The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community -Controlled Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has released a ground-breaking report outlining First Nations peoples’ views on what a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap should look like.
The report, released Wednesday, 24 June, is called A report on engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to inform a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The report’s key findings included:
- The need for three priority reforms – overwhelmingly supported by First Nations 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 First Nations 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.
Extensive community engagement process
The Coalition of Peaks, in partnership with governments, led a comprehensive community engagement process between September and December 2019.
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.
“This community engagement report highlights the conviction of the Coalition of Peaks that, if Australia is to truly Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, there needs to be a new way of working established between us and governments,” Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council said.
“Engagement processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like this one rarely take place in Australia. I am proud to say the engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks in partnership with Australian governments, implemented this ground-breaking and historic approach,” Ms Turner said.
Nearly 1700 First Nations 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.
Focus of the engagements
The primary focus of the engagements was on three proposed priority reforms to change the way Australian governments work with First Nations 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.
Informed by the engagements, the new National Agreement is being negotiated between the Coalition of Peaks and Australian governments.
It is expected to be finalised and made public before the end of July 2020.
The engagement report can be accessed here: http://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Engagement-report.pdf
History of the Closing the Gap campaign
A full break-down of the Closing the Gap campaign can be found in the latest edition of the Independent Education – our union’s national journal covering professional and industrial issues in education. Print copies will be with financial IEUA-QNT members in July.
Image: The Joint Council, August 2019