This ninth Closing the Gap report showcases real successes being achieved at a local level across the country—by individuals, communities, organisations and government.
However, at a national level, progress needs to accelerate. Over the long term there are improvements across a number of the targets, however these improvements are not enough to meet the majority of the outcomes set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
This is a report card on how we, as a nation, are meeting our responsibilities in improving outcomes for our First Australians. This report recognises changes are underway and successes are being achieved, however, progress overall nationally, is too slow.
The Closing the Gap targets address the areas of health, education and employment, and provide an important snapshot of where progress is being made and where further efforts are needed. We know we will not make the necessary gains across any of these areas if we don’t work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is only once we establish effective mechanisms for working together, for supporting decision-making at the community level, that we are likely to see the gains needed to meet the targets.
The importance of culture cannot be underestimated in working to close the gap. The connection to land, family and culture is fundamental to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the world’s oldest continuous cultures—they have stood the test of time. We must continue to preserve and respect Indigenous cultures for this generation and the future and we must acknowledge the impact of past policies on our First Australians, and work to heal the wounds of the past.
We need to look at what the evidence tells us will work and, where needed, invest in better understanding the most effective solutions. Our ambitious reform agenda, with COAG and Indigenous leaders, will consider learnings over the last decade under Closing the Gap and where we need to change course to deliver sustainable change.