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National Agreement on Closing the Gap

Category: Agreement
Date: 27 July 2020
Sub Category:COAG Agreement
Place:
State/Country:Australia
Alternative Names:
  • Closing the Gap Agreement 2020
  • Subject Matter:Collaboration / Partnership | Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Education | Employment and Training | Health and Community Services | Housing, Construction and Infrastructure | Native Title
    URL: https://www.closingthegap.gov.au/national-agreement-closing-gap-glance
    Summary Information:

    The National Agreement on Closing The Gap (the Agreement) takes effect on the 27th July 2020, and will continue, until replaced. The Agreement will be a living document, and will be updated to reflect shared priorities, progress and feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (The National Agreement, p. 3). The Agreement is between the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), all Australian governments (represented by the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of each state) and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

    The objective of the Agreement is to "overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians" (Clause 17). The key priorities are:

    • shared decision-making,
    • building the community-controlled sector,
    • improving mainstream institutions,
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data, and
    • the socio-economic outcomes.


    The Coalition of Peaks, and all Australian governments are jointly accountable for the outcomes and targets under the National Agreement (Clause 102).

    Detailed Information:
    Background to the Agreement:

    This Agreement arises from a commitment from all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, to establish a new way of developing and implementing policies and programs that impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It fulfills the commitments made in the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap that commenced in March 2019 (Clause 4). The Agreement builds on and replaces the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap) (NIRA) of 2008. The current 2020 Agreement continues the successful elements of the NIRA, while developing areas of the NIRA previously excluded (Clause 5). 'The Agreement also stems from the belief that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say in the design and delivery of services that affect them, better life outcomes are achieved' (Clause 6). It recognises that structural change in the way Governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is needed to close the gap (Clause 6).

    Initial priorities:

    The Parties agree to four priority reforms areas for joint national action (Clause 25). These four reforms being:

    • formal partnership and shared decision making,
    • building the community-controlled sector,
    • transforming government organisations, and
    • shared access to data and information at a regional level.

    Priority reform one: Formal partnership and shared decision making

    Under the Agreement, formal partnership and shared decision making is split into two forms of partnerships, policy partnerships and place-based (Clause 30). Policy partnerships are partnerships created for the purpose of working on discrete policy areas, such as education, health or housing. Place-based partnerships are partnerships based on a specific region, between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, and others by agreement, from those specific areas (Clause 30). The purpose of these two forms of partnerships to:

    • drive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led outcomes on Closing the Gap (Clause 31),
    • enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, communities and organisations to negotiate and implement agreements with governments to implement all Priority Reforms and policy specific and place-based strategies to support Closing the Gap (Clause 31),
    • support additional community-led development initiatives (Clause 31), and
    • bring together all government parties, together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and communities to the collective task of Closing the Gap (Clause 31).

    In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 41).

    Priority reform two: Building the community-controlled sector

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control is an act of self-determination (
    Clause 44). The Parties commit to building formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors to deliver services to support Closing the Gap (Clause 50). The initial Sector Strengthening Plans are: early childhood care and development, housing, health, and disability. The first four Sector Strengthening Plans will be developed within 12 months (Clause 51). The following Sector Strengthening Plans being: workforce, capital infrastructure, service provision, and governance.The Parties will agree on additional sectors for Sector Strengthening Plans in 2023 (Clause 52). In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 57).

    Priority reform three: Transforming government organisations

    The Parties commit to systemic and structural transformation of mainstream government organisations to improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (
    Clause 58). All the governments commit to implement the six key transformation elements within the government mainstream institutions and agencies In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 59):

    1. identify and eliminate racism,
    2. embed and practice meaningful cultural safety,
    3. deliver services in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people,
    4. increase accountability through transparent funding allocations,
    5. support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and
    6. improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    The government also commits to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives before, during, and after emergencies such as natural disasters and pandemics to make sure that (Clause 64):

    • government decisions take account of the impact of those decisions on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not disproportionately affected and can recover as quickly as other Australians from social and economic impacts.

    The government will also include in their annual reports information on how they are undertaking and meeting the objectives of Priority reform three In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 65). In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 67).

    Priority reform four: Shared access to data and information at a regional level

    The Parties agrees that shared access to location specific data and information will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to make informed decisions about their futures (
    Clause 69 & 70). By 2023 the Parties will establish data projects in up to six locations across Australia to enable access and use location-specific data on the Closing the Gap outcome areas (Clause 74). The data projects will include:

    • 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 (Clause 75),
    • enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to collect and access other data which they consider important (Clause 75), and
    • be covered by localised agreements, consistent with Priority Reform One, between the governments and participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the region (Clause 75).

    In 2025, the Parties will meet and consider progress and make additional partnership actions (Clause 77).

    Socio-economic targets


    The Agreement outlines 16 socio-economic targets (
    Clause 82). The Parties may agree to vary or add additional targets after this Agreement has commenced. Any new or updated targets will be developed in partnership and agreed by the Parties to the Agreement (Clause 85). The 16 socio-economic targets being:

    1. Close the Gap in life expectancy within a generation, by 2031
    2. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies with a healthy birth-weight to 91 per cent
    3. By 2025, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in Year Before Full-time Schooling (YBFS) early childhood education to 95 per cent
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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 percent.
    8. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 who are employed to 62 per cent.
    9. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) housing to 88 per cent.
    10. By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent.
    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.
    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.
    13. A significant and sustained reduction in violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children towards zero.
    14. Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards zero.
    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. 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.
    16. By 2031, there is a sustained increase in number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken.



    Implementation of the Agreement:

    The Parties will each develop their own Implementation Plan(s) to support achievement of the Agreement's objectives and outcomes (
    Clause 105). The Parties acknowledge implementation of this Agreement will require significant and effective use of resources and efforts (Clause 112).


    Public accountability for the Agreement:

    The Parties commit to independent oversight and accountability of progress under this Agreement (
    Clause 115). The Productivity Commission will develop and maintain a publicly accessible dashboard comprising data and associated supporting materials to inform the reporting on progress on Closing the Gap. The dashboard will be updated on a regular basis (at a minimum, annually) and will be maintained for the full term of the Agreement (Clause 116).

    Response to the Agreement:

    Response to the Agreement has overall been positive across both Aboriginal communities and Government departments; however, some Aboriginal organisations have concerns about the lack of action concerning incarceration rates and Aboriginal deaths in custody (Knowles, 2020). GetUps First Nations Campaign Director, Larissa Baldwin, stating the new targets 'show the government is not listening to the families and communities on the ground' (Knowles, 2020) since it does not provide 'serious reforms to end Black deaths in custody' (Knowles, 2020).

    Nevertheless, the overall support from the Government and The Coalition of Peaks has been positive, with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, stating 'the National Agreement demonstrates the Government's commitment to work in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' (Prime Minister of Australia, 2020). The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stated that the new Closing the Gap agreement is a historic achievement for Australia, and 'marks a new chapter in our efforts to close the gap, one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect' (Prime Minister of Australia, 2020).

    These views were also echoed by key Aboriginal bodies, including The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the National Native Title Council (NNTC), and Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), who support the Agreement as a 'turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments' (NACCHO, 2020). The spokesperson for the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT), John Paterson, stated 'the new National Agreement is a critical step forward that acknowledges the voice of Aboriginal people here in the Territory. We want to see a greater improvement in educational outcomes, more jobs and training opportunities, reduction in incarceration rates and real investments in tackling the social determinants of health and creating more opportunities for Aboriginal people to establish businesses to become self-sufficient' (APO NT, 2020).


    Related Entries

    Agreement
  • National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap) (NIRA)
  • Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029
  • Organisation
  • Productivity Commission
  • Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
  • Coalition of Peaks (COP) - Signatory
  • Northern Territory of Australia - Signatory
  • Commonwealth of Australia - Signatory
  • State of New South Wales - Signatory
  • State of Victoria - Signatory
  • State of Queensland - Signatory
  • State of Western Australia - Signatory
  • State of South Australia - Signatory
  • State of Tasmania - Signatory
  • Australian Capital Territory - Signatory
  • Australian Local Government Association - Signatory

  • References

    General Reference
    Prime Minister of Australia National Agreement on Closing the Gap
    The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) New National Agreement on Closing the Gap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' life outcomes
    Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) New National Agreement on Closing the Gap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' life outcomes
    Rachael Knowles (July 31 2020) Responses divided on new Closing the Gap targets
    Agreement
    Australian Government (July 2020) The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (The National Agreement)

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