The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) welcomes the decision of the National Closing the Gap Joint Ministerial Council to endorse the new Agreement on Closing the Gap at its meeting on Friday.
The National Closing the Gap Joint Ministerial Council was formed in early 2019. The Joint Ministerial Council is the first of its kind and comprises National Ministers responsible for Indigenous Australians sitting alongside an equal number of Indigenous members from the National Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (the National Coalition of Peaks).
During 2019 and 2020 the National Coalition of Peaks led extensive community engagements to ask what should be included in the new agreement. Thousands of Indigenous people participated in these engagements which involved a combination of face to face meetings and online surveys. The outcomes of these engagements were published in a report earlier this year.
The NSW based engagements were delivered by the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations (CAPO). Members of the CAPO are the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Services, NSW Aboriginal Education Consultation Group, NSW Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec), First Peoples Disability Network, Link-Up NSW and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (NSW).
The historic Agreement is now cleared to be approved at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
“This is an historic agreement and the first of its kind which sets a clear strategy to close the gap,” NSWALC Chairperson, Anne Dennis said.
“There is to be equal partnership between the government, our people and our Aboriginal community controlled organisations in efforts to work with us to Close the Gap.”
Crucially, it is underpinned by what Aboriginal peoples have said are our priorities. Underpinning the new National Agreement is a transformation in the way governments work with and for Aboriginal people to achieve improved outcomes.
“This is genuine progress for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a milestone moment we can all be very proud of and encouraged by,” Cr Dennis said.
NSWALC Chief Executive Officer James Christian PSM said “NSWALC has been a leader in developing this Agreement through its role with the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. There has been a lot of work poured into getting us to this point. It doesn’t stop now. There is still plenty to do. But this is a moment we should recognise in the journey towards genuinely Closing the Gap in Australia.”