Joint Council makes progress towards new Closing Gap agreement

Joint Council makesprogress towards new National Agreement on Closing the Gap

A meeting of the JointCouncil on Closing the Gap was held today in Adelaide, between representativesof the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and a Coalition of Aboriginaland Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies (Coalition of Peaks).

In its second evermeeting, the Joint Council today agreed to work towards a new NationalAgreement Closing the Gap. Importantly, it also agreed in principle to thefollowing three priority reforms to underpin the new agreement and accelerateprogress on Closing the Gap:

  1. 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;
  2. Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver closing the gap services and programs in agreed priority areas; and
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

The priority reformswill form the basis of engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanderrepresentatives of communities and organisations across Australia and willfocus on building support and what is needed to make them a success. In anotherfirst, the engagements will be led by the Coalition of Peaks, with the supportof Australian Governments.

“Today marks asignificant step forward in our historic partnership between governments andthe Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks with the agreementthat we will work towards a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap to guideefforts over the next ten years,” said Pat Turner, Lead Convener of theCoalition of Peaks, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council.

“The conversation onClosing the Gap is changing because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanderpeoples are now at the negotiating table with governments.

“The proposed priorityreforms are based on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have beensaying for a long time is needed to close the gap and we now have a formalstructure in place to put those solutions to governments.

“If we are to close thegap it will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlledorganisations leading the way on service delivery. We already know thatcommunity-controlled organisations achieve better results because we understandwhat works best for our peoples.

“It is a critical stepfor the Joint Council to formally recognise that Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander peoples must share in decision-making on policies that affect theirlives.

“The Coalition of Peaksare looking forward to engaging with communities around Australia to buildsupport from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the priorityreforms and to ensure that their views on what is needed to make them a successis captured in the new National Agreement,” Ms Turner said.

The Joint Council agreed on a communiqué: download PDF here.

About the Joint Council

The Joint Council was established under the historic PartnershipAgreement, announced in March. The agreement represents the first timeAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak bodies will have an equal say in thedesign, refresh, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Closing theGap framework.

The council is comprised of 12 representatives elected by theCoalition of Peaks, a Minister nominated by the Commonwealth and each state andterritory governments and one representative from the Australian GovernmentAssociation.

The Joint Council will meet at least twice a year, and willdevelop a workplan to refresh the Closing the Gap framework and monitor itsimplementation over the next ten years.

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