Last month a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap was released. This came after a historic shift towards joint decision making between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and the Australian Government. Developed through direct involvement and negotiation with the Indigenous community, the Agreement aims to substantially improve the life outcomes of our First Nations people. This move follows years of failure to meet many of the targets set out by Closing the Gap report of 2008.
As stated by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP:
"The way all levels of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have come together to negotiate this National Agreement and collectively determine how we strive to close the gap demonstrates our commitment to working together through meaningful partnerships.”
The Agreement focuses on 16 targets to improve outcomes in education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages. Of high priority is reducing the number of Indigenous adults and children in prison, with a promise to move hundreds out of these institutions within the decade. In acknowledging that all parties have a part to play in achieving these 16 targets, the new Closing the Gap Agreement requires all Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to share the responsibility of monitoring and reporting on progress. On this topic, Prime minister Scott Morrison stated:
"Today finally marks a new chapter in efforts to close the gap - one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect. The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be. This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility.”