15th January, 2020

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community engagements send a clear message to governments on Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap/CTG Coalition of Peaks/CoP

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around
Australia have had their say on a new national agreement on Closing the Gap,
which is currently in development through a partnership between the Coalition
of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
community-controlled Coalition of Peaks, in partnership with governments, led a
comprehensive engagement process in 2019, achieving a high level of community
participation. There were nearly 1700 respondents to an online survey and more than
2300 individuals attended almost 70 face-to-face meetings that were held in
cities, regional towns and remote communities in every state and territory.

The Coalition of Peaks has today released a snapshot
summary of what was heard through the engagement process. Face-to-face meetings
revealed overwhelming support for the reform priorities developed by the
Coalition of Peaks, validated by the online survey findings of more than 90 per
cent support for all three:

  1. Developing formal partnerships between government and
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on Closing the Gap
  2. Growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled
    services
  3. Improving mainstream service delivery

One theme that regularly emerged was that shared decision-making
depends on all parties having access to the same information, leading the
Coalition of Peaks to now propose the development of local data projects as the
fourth reform priority.

In 2018, Australian governments agreed to new Closing the
Gap targets in draft form, and while there was broad community support for the
general areas chosen, there was also feedback on some of the wording, outcomes,
measures and focus.

Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO Pat
Turner said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been clear:
reforming the way governments work to close the gap is critical to accelerating
progress.

“Participants and survey respondents were united on their
support for the priority reforms, speaking with one clear voice.” Turner said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities know what works for them and
have charted a clear way forward for the new national agreement on Closing the
Gap.

“It was essential to the Coalition of Peaks that our
communities were engaged in the development of the next Closing the Gap
agreement from the beginning. The Coalition of Peaks has listened and is now working
so that governments also hear your voice and put the priority reforms at the
heart of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Turner said.

The engagement process was independently reviewed by
Indigenous-owned consultancy Two Point Co., which specialises in capturing a
genuine Indigenous voice to inform policy design. The review concludes that the
“campaign to mobilise the community to participate was effective and that the
“engagements were open, fair and transparent.”

The Coalition of Peaks formally acknowledge the support of
COAG for the engagements and their commitments under the historic Partnership
Agreement on Closing the Gap to fully engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander representatives, communities and organisations in the design,
implementation and monitoring of the new Closing the Gap arrangements.

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Media Contact: Andrew Blyberg – 0401 691 666 or andrew@fiftyacres.com