Update on National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NSW CAPO) has been working with over 50 peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations (Coalition of Peaks) across the Country to negotiate a new national Agreement on Closing the Gap.

After many years of lobbying to secure stronger commitments, and to ensure First Nations people are making decisions about matters that affect our lives, NSW CAPO, working with the national Coalition of Peaks recently signed an historic agreement with Government on Closing the Gap.

The Agreement sets out a new way of working together between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is the first time a national agreement about First Nations people has been negotiated in partnership with First Nations people.  This partnership is a validation of our ongoing assertion that solutions to challenges we face are best addressed by us with our communities.

NSW CAPO has been advocating to achieve a better deal for all Aboriginal people in NSW. Our goals are greater than the individual organisations we represent, and our objective is to ensure all Aboriginal peoples have a bright future.

Guiding NSW CAPO in our negotiations are our extensive community based networks and voices, including from the community members who participated in our public NSW engagements in 2019. The report ‘a new way of working’ has been our driving force in advocating for our communities on what should be included in the Agreement.

The new Agreement contains four significant Priority Reforms that commits Governments to work with us to achieve improved life outcomes for First Nations people:

  1. Shared decision-making
  2. Strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector
  3. Improving government mainstream institutions
  4. Ensuring First Nations people have access to relevant data and information.

The new Agreement also includes commitments to keep governments accountable and socio-economic targets. We are pleased to see the inclusion of new targets focused on support for First Nations languages and for maintaining a distinctive cultural and economic relationship with land and waters.

However, the National Agreement does not include everything the Coalition of Peaks wanted but Governments were pushed in their commitments because the Coalition of Peaks have been at the negotiating table. In particular, NSW CAPO are disappointed with the outcome of the Justice targets. We would like to lift the targets to ensure there is proportionate effort and resources to address the incarceration of Aboriginal people. We’re continuing to strongly advocate for governments to do much better. 

We are strong, smart and resilient people, we must see in Closing the Gap that we have life outcomes that reflect our inherent strengths.

The National Agreement and the work of the Coalition of Peaks complements the efforts led by First Nations people across the country to improve the life outcomes of our people, including the implementation of the Uluru Statement of the Heart through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament. Closing the Gap is one part of a much bigger picture for our people and it’s only the start of the journey.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we are standing on the shoulders of giants; our ancestors. They are our strength in all that we do. It is their work before us that has made today possible. We continue to do what we can to honour them with our actions as we work for a brighter future for our people.

NSW CAPO have made a commitment to drive the change we want to see. We ask for your support in ensuring the success of this new approach through its implementation over the next ten years. It’s vital to ensure your community is part of keeping Governments on track and we continue talking about what is needed for the implementation of Closing the Gap in NSW.

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap and information about the journey to this point is available on the Coalition of Peaks website. We encourage you to visit the site and join the Coalition of Peaks mailing list to keep updated with its progress and to follow the Coalition of Peaks on social media.

Signing a National Agreement on Closing the Gap with First Nations people at the table is just the beginning of the work to be done over the next ten years.  We hope that you will join with us in supporting the objectives of the Agreement in all ways possible.

Click here to read the Highlights of The New National Agreement

In unity,