In 2017, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to work on a refreshed Closing the Gap agenda and renewed targets. A consultation process was undertaken, to which The Royal Australian Colege of General Practitioners (RACGP) provided a submission. However, community organisations were dissatisfied with the process. In December 2018, COAG agreed to commence a new consultation process through a Joint Partnership with the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations. This consultation process is now underway, seeking input on what should be included in the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement) that will set out a work plan for the next ten years.
The Royal Australian Colege of General Practitioners (RACGP) is using this opportunity to reinforce its earlier position on the direction of the Closing the Gap Strategy, and to voice their support for continued leadership from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations have consistently communicated their expectations and priorities to Government based on first-hand experience and knowledge of issues affecting their people. The RACGP believes it is essential to implement The Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Statement is a detailed and specific proposal for how to recognise and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as equal partners, and is supported by majority consensus.
- A stronger commitment is needed to properly fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitycontrolled organisations, relative to the need for those services, and based on the evidence of what works. For example, it is expected that health expenditure for population groups with higher levels of need should be proportionately higher.
- In the health sector, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) should be recognised as preferred providers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Other services, including general practices and Primary Health Networks (PHNs) can model their service provision and community engagement on ACCHSs, and be guided by their model and expertise.