Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage
In 2008, COAG agreed to six ambitious targets to address the disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment.
They are to:
- close the gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031);
- halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018;
- ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities by 2013;
- halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children by 2018;
- halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates by 2020; and
- halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians by 2018.
The targets are set out in the National Indigenous Reform Agreement which commits the Commonwealth, States and Territories to unprecedented levels of investment to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.
Closing the Gap is a long-term, ambitious framework that builds on the foundation of respect and unity provided by the 2008 National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It acknowledges that improving opportunities for Indigenous Australians requires intensive and sustained effort from all levels of government, as well as the private and not-for-profit sectors, communities and individuals.
- Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes
- Supporting Indigenous Early Childhood Development
- Improving Remote Indigenous Housing
- Investments in Schooling
- New Remote Service Delivery Model
Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes
The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes, agreed by COAG in 2008, commits governments to around $1.6 billion of expenditure over four years. Key activities during 2010-11 included the rollout of smoking cessation and reduction programs, and training of workers to support these programs.
Supporting Indigenous Early Childhood Development
The $564 million National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, provides for early learning, support for Indigenous families and improved health for mothers and their children. As part of the Agreement, a network of 38 Children and Family Centres is being established, offering integrated early childhood and parenting services. The first centre opened in April 2011, and all centres are on track to be established by 2014.
Improving Remote Indigenous Housing
The 10 year, $5.5 billion National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing was established to reform responsibilities between the Commonwealth, States and the Northern Territory in provision of housing for Indigenous Australians living in remote communities and to address overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and severe housing shortages in those communities.
Investments in Schooling
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan was endorsed by COAG in May 2011.
The Action Plan commits governments to a unified approach to closing the gap in education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. It brings together mainstream education reforms, under COAG’s National Education Agreement, with a range of actions specific to improving outcomes for Indigenous students.
The States and Territories have identified 900 Focus Schools under the Action Plan, where actions will make the greatest difference in progressing the Closing the Gap targets for education. The plan reflects the commitment by governments to introduce substantial structural and innovative reforms in early childhood education and schooling as outlined in national agreements between the Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments. The plan continues to inform COAG agreements to ensure that education reforms are aligned with the Closing the Gap Agenda.
New Remote Service Delivery Model
The $291 million National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery aims to improve access to government services for Indigenous Australians, raise the standard and range of services being delivered in remote communities, improve governance and leadership, and increase economic and social partnership wherever possible.
A Single Government Interface, including a Government Business Manager and Indigenous Engagement officer, is now operating in 29 priority locations. These are supported by six Regional Operations Centres, staffed by Commonwealth and State/Territory officers.
Boards of Management are established in each jurisdiction, and community members are making an important contribution through the development and implementation of Local Implementation Plans.