Closing the Gap

The WA Government is committed to eliminating the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians through a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
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The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap was announced on 30 July 2020.

Significantly, this is the first National Agreement to be developed in genuine equal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their representatives on the national Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks).

The national Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) is a representative body of around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations. The Coalition of Peaks was Party to the negotiation of the new National Agreement, as per the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – 2019 to 2029.

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is built on four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. These are:

  1. Shared decision-making: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are empowered to share decision-making authority with governments to accelerate policy and place-based progress on Closing the Gap through formal partnership arrangements;
  2. Building the Community-Controlled Sector: There is a strong and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector delivering high quality services to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country;
  3. Improving Mainstream Institutions: Governments, their organisations and their institutions are accountable for Closing the Gap and are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including through the services they fund; and
  4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led Data: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, locally-relevant data and information to set and monitor the implementation of efforts to close the gap, their priorities and drive their own development.

It also has a socio-economic outcomes framework of targets to focus efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes.

Icon Number National Agreement on Closing the Gap socio-economic targets
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1. Close the Gap in life expectancy within a generation, by 2031
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2. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies with a healthy birthweight to 91 per cent
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3. By 2025, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in Year Before Fulltime Schooling (YBFS) early childhood education to 95 per cent
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4. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) to 55 per cent.
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5. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (age 20-24) attaining year 12 or equivalent qualification to 96 per cent
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6. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-34 years who have completed a tertiary qualification (Certificate III and above) to 70 per cent
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7. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15–24 years) who are in employment, education or training to 67 per cent
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8. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 who are employed to 62 per cent
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9. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) housing to 88 per cent
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10. By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent
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11. By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (10-17 years) in detention by at least 30 per cent
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12. By 2031, reduce the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent
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13. A significant and sustained reduction in violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children towards zero
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14. Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards zero
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15.a By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in Australia's landmass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's legal rights or interests
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15.b By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in areas covered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's legal rights or interests in the sea
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16. By 2031, there is a sustained increase in number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken

While some of these targets are highly ambitious, the Western Australian Government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to work toward making progress against targets.

Implementation of the National Agreement

The National Agreement commits all parties to action. The WA Government will co-design and develop WA’s Implementation Plan in partnership with the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA.

Accountability and Monitoring

The Australian Government, states and territories, local government and the Coalition of Peaks are jointly accountable for the outcomes and targets under the National Agreement.

The parties share accountability for ensuring the outcomes of Closing the Gap are achieved through implementation. The WA Government will report to the WA Parliament on progress on the objectives of the National Agreement.

The Productivity Commission will also undertake a three-yearly independent report on progress against the National Agreement. This will be followed by an Indigenous-led review of progress every three years.

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap (Joint Council) will have an ongoing role in monitoring progress by all parties in delivering on the commitments in the National Agreement.

Resources about the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Background

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set targets aimed at eliminating the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The targets focussed on life expectancy, mortality, education and employment.

With only two of the seven targets on track, in December 2016 COAG agreed to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda ahead of the tenth anniversary of the agreement.

In February 2018, a Special Gathering of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians presented COAG with a statement setting out its priorities for the new Closing the Gap agenda. The statement called for the next phase to be guided by the principles of empowerment and self-determination and deliver a community-led, strengths-based strategy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to move beyond surviving to thriving.

In December 2018, COAG agreed to establish a Joint Council as a key step in the partnership between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Joint Council is a recognition of the shared decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through their representative organisations, and in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Closing the Gap framework that is essential to closing the gap in life outcomes.

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap is comprised of representatives from the Coalition of Peaks, the Australian Government, all State and Territory Governments and the Australian Local Government Association and first met in March 2019.

On 8 March 2019, Aboriginal leaders from across Western Australia (WA) attended a meeting hosted by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) to consider opportunities to advance partnership between Aboriginal communities, through their representatives, and the WA Government to inform the Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

At this forum, 13 Aboriginal leaders were peer-nominated to establish an Interim Aboriginal Working Group (IAWG) to negotiate the terms and mechanism for future partnership with government; and represent WA at the Closing the Gap forums.

Joint Council on Closing the Gap met for the first time in Brisbane on 27 March 2019. At their second meeting in August 2019, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap agreed for Parties to commence negotiations of a new National Agreement.

In October 2019, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Ben Wyatt MLA, formally appointed some of these Aboriginal leaders to the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA.

On 3 July 2020, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap met for a third time to finalise the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, ahead of signing by First Ministers from all jurisdictions and the Lead Convener, Coalition of Peaks.

Page reviewed 6 August 2020