NSW goes for gap goals
The NSW Government has released its Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, and councils say they are ready to help.
Australia’s National Agreement on Closing the Gap is a partnership between Australian governments and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
The National Agreement calls on states and territories to come up with implementation plans and partnerships with Aboriginal peak organisations to help address the ongoing plight of the nation’s first inhabitants.
While there have been gains on some Closing the Gap indicators, lasting improvements have been largely elusive so far.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise three per cent of the population, but 27 per cent of those incarcerated; the gap in school attendance rates remains at ten per cent; and non-Indigenous men and women outlive their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers by ten and eight years respectively.
Additionally, Australia is continuing to see a high rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody 30 years after a 1991 Royal Commission into the matter.
In New South Wales, a partnership has been formed between the State Government and the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NSW CAPO), as part of the new Implementation Plan.
The NSW partnership has agreed to take an iterative approach, with the first version of the plan setting out preliminary actions and work already underway on priority reforms, and baselines on the 17 socio-economic targets.
Every year, the NSW Government and NSW CAPO say they will, in partnership, renew their plan and develop further forward-looking iterations to achieve the reforms and targets.
NSW’s peak body for councils has welcomed the release of the statewide implementation plan.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott says councils are keenly committed to reconciliation.
“This is a positive first step and is especially important given past failures to address the disadvantage gap,” Cr Scott said.
“Closing the Gap is designed to tackle the disproportionate disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the NSW Implementation Plan commits to focus on issues raised in the strategy, including health, housing, early childhood development and prevention of abuse.
“It’s key that this plan has been developed in partnership between government and Aboriginal peak organisations and communities.
“Councils across NSW are already engaged in so many of these priority reform areas and socio-economic targets in their local communities.
“I look forward to local government being more closely involved in development of implementation plans for future years.”
Cr Scott said councils are an essential partner in ensuring Closing the Gap initiatives are locally tailored and relevant for each community.
“A key action for the next 12 months will be to capture the existing work of local government that supports achieving priority reforms and socio-economic outcomes targeted in the strategy for NSW,” Cr Scott said.
“This partnership agreement is enshrined in the Intergovernmental Agreement signed in 2019 by the Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian and me at our 2019 LGNSW Annual Conference.
“This partnership approach is the gold standard for maximising outcomes and should be applied to the Closing the Gap priorities, in partnership with NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peaks, Aboriginal organisations and communities, to drive better outcomes for Aboriginal communities.”