Culture has been the missing element from the Closing the Gap framework to date. Funding for First Nations culture made up just 1% of total direct government expenditure for Indigenous Australians in 2015–16, and cultural outcomes have not featured in the measurement framework.
The Australia Council's submission to the Closing the Gap Refresh advocates for increased investment in First Nations arts and cultural expression, cultural maintenance, and First Nations-led culturally based solutions across portfolios.
For decades, First Nations peoples have advocated for the critical role of culture – as a necessary part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage, and for the healing and strengthening of individuals and communities. Developed in collaboration with First Nations stakeholders, First Nations peoples’ indivisible rights to culture and self-determination are central in the submission.
The Council’s submission draws on the strength of First Nations voices, numerous inquiries and a broad research evidence base showing that participation in arts and culture supports outcomes across the Closing the Gap framework.
The interruption of culture as a cause of Indigenous disadvantage cannot be overstated, and neither can the opportunity to heal this damage by valuing First Nations cultures.