Joint Council on Closing the Gap meets for the first time since National Agreement

Joint Council on Closing the Gap meets for the first time since National Agreement

by Freya Lucas

December 03, 2020

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap recently convened for the first time since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020, reviewing collective responsibilities for the implementation of the agreement. 

 

Each jurisdiction provided updates about the establishment and strengthening of partnership arrangements between individual governments, the Coalition of Peaks and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners to support the development and implementation of the Agreement.

 

The meeting, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and Joint Council Co-Chair Patricia Turner AM said, focussed on making sure strong partnerships are being established and strengthened to support the implementation of the National Agreement in each state and territory.

 

“This is just the beginning. The National Agreement commits governments to a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, based on negotiation and shared decision-making, to address the inequality too many of our people still face,” she added.

 

Ms Turner said she was pleased that the Joint Council agreed to develop an online, public tracker of the commitments in the National Agreement and have Jurisdictional Implementation Plans developed in a consistent format. This, she said, will help ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the county can monitor implementation and progress.

 

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Accountability and transparency matter to us,” she added.

 

The Joint Council also agreed to a Strategic Plan for Funding the Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Sector. The Strategic Plan will guide investment from the joint funding pool committed by governments to support Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement.

 

The Coalition of Peaks secured the support of governments to establish the joint virtual funding pool to support the strengthening of the community-controlled sector as part of the negotiations on the National Agreement. Governments have made the following contributions across four years:

 

  • Commonwealth: $46.5 million
  • Victoria: $3.3 million
  • Queensland: $9.3 million
  • Australian Capital Territory: $0.8 million
  • New South Wales: $7.4 million
  • Tasmania: $1.2 million
  • South Australia: $3.3 million
  • Northern Territory $2 million

 

The Western Australian government is expected to announce their contribution shortly.

 

Consistent with the National Agreement, funding will initially be invested in the early childhood care and development, housing, health and disability sectors. 

 

The Joint Council agreed to the following areas for investment:

 

Early childhood care and development community-controlled sector

 

  • Establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood development, protection and care workforce
  • Enabling peak bodies to build the capacity and capability of the sector to deliver services and provide policy development leadership in partnership with governments

 

Housing community-controlled sector

 

  • Enabling peak bodies to build the capacity and capability of the sector to deliver services and provide policy development leadership in partnership with governments
  • Engagement across the sector on how best to build the sustainability and capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-housing providers

 

“The Coalition of Peaks want to see a strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood care, protection and development workforce like the successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners workforce. Better outcomes are achieved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when the services we need are delivered by our own people, from our own community-controlled organisations,” Ms Turner said.

 

“We want to make sure there are more jobs for our people in the communities in which they live and we are pleased that the governments have agreed to invest in this. We are looking forward to working with governments to ensure that investment from each government is made in a nationally coordinated and coherent way to maximise the impact of the funding and support the building of sustainable sectors.”

 

Investment priorities for health and disability will be considered by the Joint Council in March 2021.

 

The Strategic Plan and the Priority Reform Indicators are available on the Closing the Gap and Coalition of Peaks websites. The Joint Council communique is available here.

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