The Morrison Government has released the Commonwealth’s first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, and with it committed more than $1 billion in new measures to support to help achieve Closing the Gap outcomes.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said with the release of the Plan, the Government was turning the commitments made under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap into practical action.
“This is a plan that’s been led together with Indigenous leaders, to back Indigenous communities,” the Prime Minister said.
“When we overhauled the Closing the Gap program we set four priority reforms to fundamentally change how governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people work together. This Implementation Plan details how governments will do our part to achieve those reforms.
“It highlights the real and practical actions to be taken across all areas of government and also commits funding to actions that will ensure we get there. We’ve listened together and are taking action together.
“We’re doing things differently with accountability and transparency, and in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.
“This is a truly whole-of-government plan, developed by Ministers, departments and agencies across the Commonwealth with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners, in particular the Coalition of Peaks.
“This is a practical plan that builds from the ground up by making good on the harm caused to Stolen Generations survivors to supporting this and future generations of young people with more education opportunities.
“This plan is about real reconciliation, how we get there, and making sure all governments are held to account, state and federal.”
Measures announced with the release of the plan are focussed on new areas in the National Agreement that require early investment, like the Priority Reforms, justice and languages.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the measures included $378.6 million for a new redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors from the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory. This scheme is critical to continue the nation’s reconciliation journey and will support healing.
“The scheme, for living survivors who were removed as children from their families in then-Commonwealth territories, includes a one-off payment in recognition of the harm caused by forced removal and gives each survivor the opportunity, should they wish, to tell their story and receive an individual apology,” Minister Wyatt said.
There are also new measures in areas which evidence suggests will have the greatest impact over the long term, including early childhood, health, education and supporting families.
“We are providing an additional $254.4 million towards infrastructure to better support Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations do their critical work, and on their terms. ACCHOs have been a significant part of the Government’s response to COVID-19 and this funding will improve their facilities and maintain the high level of care they offer their communities,” Minister Wyatt said.
“We are also investing $160 million in new funding to ensure the best start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, through initiatives such as the Healthy Mums and Healthy Bubs program, the Community Child Care Fund, the Connected Beginnings Program and the Early Years Education Program.”
Minister Wyatt said the Implementation Plan and associated investments showed the Commonwealth was serious about delivering on the National Agreement.
“This first Commonwealth Implementation Plan sets a foundation for our efforts in achieving the targets in the National Agreement over the coming decade,” Minister Wyatt said.
“We will report on our progress each year, and the plan will be updated at the same time in partnership and based on evidence and data. This will keep us accountable and ensure we are aligned with the priorities of the people it affects most.
“Progress and change are not a Commonwealth responsibility alone and all parties are responsible for delivering on the commitments in the National Agreement. States and territories are delivering their own implementation plans, and together with the Commonwealth’s Plan detail a full picture of the national effort being delivered under the partnership.
“All parties to the National Agreement are deeply committed to working together with a determination to forge a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”