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Closing the Gap

National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap sets out ambitious outcomes and new priority reforms that will change the way governments work to improve life outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

It has been developed in genuine partnership between Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations.

The National Agreement was agreed on 30 June 2020 by:

  • all Australian governments
  • the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations
  • the Australian Local Government Association.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency is leading the Commonwealth's whole-of-government efforts on Closing the Gap.

Commonwealth Implementation Plan

The National Agreement commits all parties to action. Its success depends on all parties committing the right resources and efforts to deliver on these actions in practice.

All parties to the National Agreement have developed an implementation plan that sets out how their policies and programs align with the National Agreement and what actions they will take to achieve the priority reforms. Parties will report annually on their progress.

On 5 August 2021, the Australian Government released its first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. This whole-of-government plan was developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners and in particular with the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations.

The National Indigenous Australians agency led the development of the Implementation Plan, working closely with relevant Australian Government agencies, including our department.

It provides an overview of the Australian Government's new investments and future work as well as existing actions that contribute to achieving the Closing the Gap outcomes and priority reforms.

Our actions under the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan

We are working to embed the priority reforms within our broader policies, programs, culture and practices. This work will continue for the lifetime of the National Agreement.

Together with the National Indigenous Australians Agency, we are leading Australian Government action on the Adult and Youth Justice Outcomes (Outcomes 10 and 11), as well as the Land and Waters Outcome (Outcomes 15a and 15b).

Read more about the Closing the Gap Socioeconomic Outcomes and Targets.

Adult and Youth Justice Outcomes

Closing the Gap Outcome 10 and Outcome 11 are that adult and young Indigenous Australians are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

There are 2 targets for these outcomes:

  • Target 10: By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15%.
  • Target 11: By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (10-17 years) in detention by at least 30%.

Under the Australian Government's Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, we are delivering 4 key new investments:

  • $9.3 million in legal assistance funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services to assist families in coronial inquiries and to support clients involved in complex and/or expensive cases.
  • $8.3 million for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to resolve post-separation parenting and property disputes through culturally safe and tailored models of family dispute resolution.
  •  $7.6 million to support the establishment of the Justice Policy Partnership, a joined up policy partnership on justice between the Commonwealth, states and territories and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to agree focus action areas to drive outcomes on reducing Indigenous incarceration.
  • Funding to support jurisdictional implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. This will lead to better outcomes for detainees and support greater public confidence in the justice system by helping reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and ensuring safe conditions of detention.

Land and waters

We are supporting the Land and Waters Outcome through our role in administering parts of the native title system.

Closing the Gap Outcome 15 is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters.

There are 2 targets under this outcome:

  • Target 15a: By 2030, a 15% increase in Australia's landmass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's legal rights or interests.
  • Target 15b: By 2030, a 15% increase in areas covered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's legal rights or interests in the sea.

Effectively resolving existing native title claims will help meet these targets.

As set out in the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, the recent commencement of the Native Title Legislation Amendment Act 2021 supports the effective operation of the native title system. This includes by improving native title claims resolution.

Some of the key improvements under the Act are:

  • allowing historical extinguishment of native title in areas of national and state parks to be disregarded where the parties agree
  • affording native title claim groups greater flexibility in setting their internal processes, including by allowing them to impose conditions on the authority of the applicant and for the applicant to act by majority.

When involved in native title claims, the Commonwealth's position is to resolve these by consent wherever possible. This is generally a quicker, cheaper and less adversarial approach, which further supports the achievement of Outcome 15.

Acknowledgement of Country - Aboriginal Art Kangaroo

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Australia and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.