National Agreement on Closing the Gap Targets: What It Means for Australia

Australia’s “Closing the Gap” policy was first introduced in 2008 with the aim of addressing the disparities in health, education, and employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. However, despite years of effort, progress has been slow and inconsistent. In 2018, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap was established to review and renew the policy, resulting in the recent release of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets for the next ten years.

So, what are the new targets and how do they differ from the previous ones? And what does this mean for Australia?

Firstly, it is important to note that the new targets were designed with meaningful Indigenous partnerships and co-design at the forefront. There were extensive consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia, resulting in the current nine targets which are:

1. Close the life expectancy gap within a generation

2. Have 95% of Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025

3. Increase the proportion of Indigenous students in Year 12 attainment or equivalent qualifications to 96% by 2031

4. Increase the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 25-34 years with a tertiary qualification to 70% by 2031

5. Halve the gap in employment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2031

6. Halve the gap in reading and numeracy achievements for Indigenous students by 2028

7. Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2028

8. Ensure all Indigenous Australians have access to comprehensive primary health care services in their local area by 2031

9. Reduce the rate of Indigenous adults in custody by at least 15% by 2031

These targets cover a broader range of issues than the previous ones, including education, employment, health, and justice. They are also more specific and measurable, with clear timelines and indicators for each target. This will enable better monitoring and evaluation of progress and accountability for both government and Indigenous communities.

The new targets also emphasize the importance of Indigenous-led solutions and partnerships. The policy recognizes that the government alone cannot close the gap and that it requires collaborative efforts with Indigenous communities and their knowledge and expertise.

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets is a significant step forward in addressing the disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It is a reflection of the government’s commitment to meaningful partnerships, accountability, and measurable outcomes. However, achieving these targets will require sustained effort and investment from all levels of government, private sector, and Indigenous communities.

As a nation, we must continue to prioritize Closing the Gap policy and work towards a future where Indigenous Australians enjoy the same opportunities and outcomes as non-Indigenous Australians.