The journey to close the gap began in 2005, with the release of the Social Justice Report 2005, which called for Australian governments to commit to achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health and life expectancy within 25 years (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 2005). Non-government agencies responded with a National Indigenous Health Equality Campaign in 2006, and launched the Close the Gap campaign in 2007.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their stakeholders. In December 2008, COAG pledged to close key gaps, and recognised that a concerted national effort was needed to address Indigenous disadvantage in key areas. Six Closing the Gap targets were introduced, contained within an overarching Commonwealth and state and territory agreement called the National Indigenous Reform Agreement. A school attendance target was added in 2014 and an expanded early childhood target was added in 2015 following the expiry of the remote early childhood education target in 2013 (unmet).
As four of the seven targets were due to expire in 2018, the Australian Government has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and state and territory governments to develop the Closing the Gap Refresh. This is a new framework which builds on the original Closing the Gap targets and represents a continued commitment in effort and accountability from all governments for a further ten years. This report both acknowledges the future framework, while reporting progress against the original targets set in 2008.