DISCUSSION of Closing the Gap in socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous Australians bookended the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra on 9 February.
Before the COAG meeting, there was a Special Gathering of 45 prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at which preliminary advice was provided on future policy priorities for Closing the Gap.
Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Executive Director of Policy and Research John Pritchard attended the Special Gathering as an observer.
A strong message from the Special Gathering was that Indigenous leaders want to be involved, and that the next phase of the Closing the Gap agenda must be guided by the principles of empowerment and self-determination as articulated in the 2008 Closing the Gap Statement of Intent.
Afterwards, a Special Statement was issued, demanding “from government a community-led, strength-based strategy that enables us to move beyond surviving to thriving”.
The official COAG meeting communique welcomed the views of the Special Gathering, noting that 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of COAG’s pledge to Closing the Gap in outcomes, and it committed to refreshing this agenda.
“All governments will undertake community consultations on the refresh,” the communique said, “ahead of COAG agreeing a new Closing the Gap framework, national and state targets, performance indicators and accountabilities by 31 October, 2018.”
The communique also “welcomed progress on developing the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations”.