Closing the Gap

Priority Reforms

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap has been built around four Priority Reforms that have been directly informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These reforms are central to the National Agreement and will change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

PRIORITY REFORM ONE

Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making

‘In order to effect real change, governments must work collaboratively and in genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples because they are the essential agents of change.’

Engagement survey participant from the Northern Territory

Building and strengthening structures to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share decision-making with governments.

Parties acknowledge that genuine partnership is critical to accelerating policy and place-based progress against Closing the Gap.

Stronger partnership elements

  • Partnerships are accountable and representative.
  • Formal agreements are in place.
  • Decision-making is shared between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments will:

  • Acknowledge the shared decision making structures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have already developed. Actions under this Priority Reform are not intended to replace these arrangements but rather build on these successes.
  • Commit to establishing policy and place-based partnerships to respond to local priorities.
  • Review existing partnership arrangements to assess how they meet the partnership elements by:
    • undertaking a stocktake of existing partnership arrangements
    • reviewing and strengthening existing partnerships
    • reporting on the number of partnerships, changes made to existing partnerships, and which strong partnership elements are met and unmet for all partnerships.
  • Include the outcomes of the review in annual reports.

The partnership will:

  • Establish a joined up approach between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives in five policy priority areas. These should focus on identifying opportunities to work more effectively across governments, reduce gaps and duplication, and improve outcomes. The first priority areas are:
    • justice (adult and youth incarceration)
    • social and emotional wellbeing (mental health)
    • housing
    • early childhood care and development
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
  • Develop six new place-based partnerships in areas to be agreed by Joint Council.

Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making

PRIORITY REFORM TWO

Building the Community-Controlled Sector

‘A community-controlled organisation implicitly recognises the strength, the expertise and the right to self-determination by Indigenous communities’

Engagement participant at New South Wales meeting

Building formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors to deliver services to support Closing the Gap.

The parties acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services usually achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are often preferred over mainstream services.

Strong community-controlled sector elements

  • Sustained capacity building and investment.
  • Dedicated and identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce.
  • Community-controlled organisations are supported by a Peak Body, which has strong governance and policy development and influencing capacity.
  • Community-controlled organisations have a dedicated, reliable and consistent funding model designed to suit the types of services required by communities.

Governments will:

  • Commit to building strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors and organisations in line with the strong sector elements.
  • Include in annual reports information on action taken to strengthen the community-controlled sector.
  • Implement measures to increase the proportion of services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

The partnership will:

  • Recognise that building strong community-controlled sectors to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs requires national effort and joined up delivery against all sector elements in agreed priority areas.
  • Identify sectors for joint national strengthening effort every three years through Sector Strengthening Plans. The initial Sector Strengthening Plans will focus on:
    • Early childhood care and development
    • Housing
    • Health
    • Disability.
  • Develop Sector Strengthening Plans in line with the strong community-controlled sector elements and have the following four streams:
    • Workforce
    • Capital infrastructure
    • Service provision
    • Governance.

Building the Community-Controlled Sector

PRIORITY REFORM THREE

Transforming Government Organisations

‘To be effective, mainstream organisations need to spend time understanding what is happening in our communities and need to recognise and understand the skills that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold.’

Engagement participant at Coalition of Peaks membership meeting in the Torres Strait

Systemic and structural transformation of mainstream government organisations to improve accountability and better respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Transformation elements

  • Governments will:
    • identify and eliminate racism
    • embed and practice meaningful cultural safety
    • deliver services in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people
    • increase accountability through transparent funding allocations
    • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
    • improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments will:

  • Challenge unconscious biases that result in decisions based on stereotypes.
  • Share and publish their approaches to engagement approaches, consistent with the transformation elements.
  • Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives before, during, and after emergencies.
  • Include in their annual reports information on implementation of the transformation elements.
  • Identify, develop or strengthen an independent mechanism, or mechanisms, that will support, monitor, and report on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions. The mechanism, or mechanisms, will:
    • support mainstream agencies and institutions to embed transformation elements, and monitoring their progress
    • be recognisable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and be culturally safe
    • engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to listen and to respond to concerns about mainstream institutions and agencies
    • report publicly on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions, including progress, barriers and solutions.

Transforming Government Organisations

PRIORITY REFORM FOUR

Shared Access to Data and Information at a Regional Level

‘Collect, analyse, use our own data to meet our own needs. It’s our information and we should use it for our own purposes as decided by us.’

Survey participant from New South Wales

Enable shared access to location specific data and information to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations achieve the first three Priority Reforms.

Parties agree disaggregated data and information is most useful to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to obtain a comprehensive picture of what is happening in their communities and support decision making.

Data and information sharing elements

  • Partnerships are in place to guide the improved collection, access, management and use of data to inform shared decision-making.
  • Governments provide communities and organisations with access to the same data and information they use to make decisions.
  • Governments collect, handle and report data at sufficient levels of disaggregation, and in an accessible and timely way.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations are supported by governments to build capability and expertise in collecting, using and interpreting data in a meaningful way.

Governments will:

  • Share available, disaggregated regional data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities on Closing the Gap, subject to meeting privacy requirements.
  • Establish partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government agencies to improve collection, access, management and use of data, including identifying improvements to existing data collection and management.
  • Make data more transparent by telling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people what data they have and how it can be accessed.
  • Build capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to collect, and use data.

The partnership will:

  • Establish data projects in up to six locations across Australia to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to access and use location‑specific data on the Closing the Gap outcome areas.
  • Data projects will:
    • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to analyse and use regional specific data to help drive their own development and discussions with governments on Closing the Gap
    • enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to collect and access other data which they consider important
    • be covered by localised agreements, consistent with Priority Reform One, between the governments and participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the region.

Shared Access to Data and
Information at a Regional Level