The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish the Joint Council on Closing the Gap (the Joint Council) in December 2018. This formed a key part of its commitment to a formal Partnership on Closing the Gap (the Partnership) with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Partnership recognises that shared decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their representative organisations, in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement) is essential to improving life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Joint Council is co-chaired by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Ms Pat Turner AM. It includes ministers from each state and territory, twelve members of the Coalition of Peaks, and a representative of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
This is the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been included as joint decision makers. The Joint Council supports national leadership, coordination and cooperation on Closing the Gap and provides advice to Australian governments.
On 3 July 2020, the Joint Council agreed to the National Agreement, and endorsed it to be presented to First Ministers of all Australian governments, the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks and the President of ALGA. On 27 July 2020, the National Agreement came into effect upon agreement and signature of these parties.
The Joint Council will have an ongoing role in monitoring performance and implementation of all parties’ actions under the jointly agreed National Agreement.