NIAA celebrates first birthday, Closing the Gap targets revealed

By Shannon Jenkins

July 2, 2020


The National Indigenous Australians Agency’s first birthday has coincided with reports that the national cabinet is set to discuss a proposed new Closing the Gap agreement.

Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt on Tuesday marked the first anniversary of NIAA, noting the agency has worked to improve mental health and wellbeing, education, economic and employment outcomes.

“This last year has seen a transition towards co-designing programs and working in partnership with communities and peak organisations to deliver projects that impact people’s lives for the better,” he said.

“NIAA continues to strengthen its regional presence to underpin a growing place-based model of operating and is seeking to bring more people into the process of setting priorities and delivering outcomes. This is exemplified in its work over the first half of 2020, where NIAA provided tailored assistance to Indigenous communities hit by cyclones, the tragic bushfires, and the threat of COVID-19, making sure people and businesses had the support they needed to get through these unprecedented sequence of crises.”

Wyatt noted that while NIAA has worked with various jurisdictions and community leaders to keep remote communities safe during the pandemic, it has also continued to administer the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

He said the agency would continue to progress work on improving outcomes, as well as initiatives such as the Indigenous Voice, constitutional recognition, and Closing the Gap.

Just a day later, The Australian published information from a leaked draft of the new Closing the Gap agreement.

The agreement would aim to “overcome entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians”.

Read more: Governments must improve engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure they are comprehensive and transparent, report finds

Under the proposal, community-controlled Indigenous organisations would have more control over decision-making and service delivery in their communities.

By 2031, 70% of Indigenous youth would have tertiary qualifications, and the disproportionately high incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults would be reduced by at least 15%. The current goal sits at a reduction of 5% by 2028.

Parity would be achieved by 2093, the draft said.

The proposed agreement is set to be discussed by the national cabinet on Friday.

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