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First Peoples

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When government leaders from across the country met in 2008 to agree to a framework for tackling Indigenous disadvantage, they set ambitious targets to address priority areas for change.

The Closing the Gap framework and the six targets set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is a national approach to close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people.

It involves unprecedented levels of investment by governments across seven inter-linked areas, known as ‘building blocks’, which have been underpinned by a series of Indigenous-specific and mainstream National Partnership Agreements between the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

The six Closing the Gap targets relate to life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment.

Governments have agreed to work in partnership—and the approach to Closing the Gap extends beyond governments to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, the private sector and nongovernment organisations.

The timeframes for the Closing the Gap targets are ambitious and varied. Recognising the significant challenge posed by these targets, all governments have shown the determination—and the will—to meet them.

Much progress has been made to address Indigenous disadvantage in the years since the Closing the Gap framework was agreed to.

This year is a significant year for Closing the Gap. It is the year in which the first of the targets set back in 2008 will be achieved— ensuring all Indigenous four-yearolds living in remote communities have access to early childhood education within five years, or by 2013.

It is also the fifth anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, in particular the Stolen Generations, and the Parliament will be asked to show its commitment and leadership in progressing constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it considers the Bill for an Act of Recognition.

This year will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Native Title Act being passed. Both anniversaries are significant milestones to reflect on as Australia continues to move towards reconciliation and the goal of closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

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