Closing the Gap National Agreement

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Closing the Gap National Agreement: What It Means for Indigenous Communities

The Closing the Gap National Agreement is a historic milestone for Indigenous communities in Australia. It represents a new approach to tackling the entrenched disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as a commitment by governments to work in partnership with First Nations people to achieve better outcomes in health, education, employment, and justice.

The new agreement, signed in July 2020 by the Australian Federal Government, state and territory governments, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, replaces the previous agreement that had been in place since 2008. While the previous agreement had some successes, it failed to close the gap in most areas, with significant gaps remaining in life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, numeracy, and employment rates.

The new agreement is different in several ways. Firstly, it sets ambitious national targets that are specific, measurable, and achievable. For example, by 2031, the government aims to reduce the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by at least 15%, and to halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five.

Secondly, the agreement recognizes the importance of First Nations-led approaches and the need for genuine, ongoing partnership between governments and Indigenous communities. This means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be directly involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs that affect them.

Thirdly, the agreement emphasizes the need for systemic change, rather than just piecemeal initiatives. This means that governments will need to address the root causes of Indigenous disadvantage, such as institutional racism, lack of access to services, and the ongoing trauma of colonization and forced removals.

The agreement is not perfect, and there are concerns about whether the targets are ambitious enough, whether the funding is sufficient, and whether the states and territories will properly implement the agreement. However, it represents a significant step forward and a positive shift in the way that governments are approaching Indigenous affairs.

For Indigenous communities, the agreement means that they will have a greater say in their own futures and more control over the services that affect them. It means that their voices will be heard and their rights respected. It means that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians may finally begin to close.

In conclusion, the Closing the Gap National Agreement is a welcome development in the ongoing struggle for justice and equality for Indigenous Australians. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of First Nations people and their ongoing fight for self-determination. While there is still much work to be done, the agreement provides a framework for progress and hope for a better future for all Australians.