Closing the Gap
We acknowledge the ongoing custodians of the lands where we work and the places in which we live. We celebrate their unique cultural and spiritual relationship to Country, and their rich contribution to Australia. We pay respect to ancestors and Elders past, present and future.
The department recognises that by acknowledging our past, we are laying the groundwork for a future that embraces all Australians - a future based on mutual respect and shared responsibility. Closing the Gap acknowledges the ongoing strength and resilience of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in sustaining the world’s oldest living cultures.
In March 2019, a formal partnership agreement on Closing the Gap was signed by the Australian Government, the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (CAPO), state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association.
The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is premised on a "new approach... where policy making that impacts the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is done in full and genuine partnership... where governments listen to and change the way they work in response to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People”.
Critically, the National Agreement is based on the belief that when Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples have a genuine say in the design and delivery of services that affect them, and their cultures are strong, better life outcomes are achieved. The parties have agreed that all activities should be implemented in a way that takes full account of, promotes, and does not diminish in any way Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultures.
The NSW Government is working in partnership with the NSW CAPO and other partners to achieve better outcomes for all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Structural change in the way governments work with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples is needed to close the gap. This is a new way of working for the NSW Government – an opportunity we welcome, to learn from our partners and transform the way we work together.
In order to implement the new national agreement on Closing the Gap, NSW has 5 key priority reforms which focus on changing the way governments work to accelerate better outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The priority reforms entail a fundamentally new way of developing and implementing policies and programs that impact on the lives of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. The department is committed to all of the priority reforms and has responsibility for leading specific socio-economic outcome targets.
Reform 1 – Formal partnerships and shared decision-making
Outcome: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples share decision-making authority with governments to accelerate policy and place-based progress on Closing the Gap through formal partnership arrangements.
Target: There will be formal partnership arrangements in place to support Closing the Gap in between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments in each state and territory enshrining agreed joint decision-making roles and responsibilities and where Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples have chosen their own representatives.
What you can do: Get to know your local AECG. The NSW AECG is the NSW CAPO’s nominated representative for closing the gap in education. The NSW AECG is also the department’s formal partner for Aboriginal education. The NSW AECG’s primary role is to promote active participation by Aboriginal people in the consultative and decision-making process of education and training related matters.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan outlines the department’s vision, to build partnerships between Aboriginal andnon-Aboriginal Australians that are based on trust and respect, free from racism and discrimination.
Reform 2 – Building the community-controlled sector
Outcome: There is a strong and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector delivering high quality services to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.
Target: Increase the amount of government funding for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander programs and services going through Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations.
What you can do: Familiarise yourself with NSW CAPO member organisations or other Aboriginal community organisations active in your area. Make sure that services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities are delivered by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
Reform 3 – Transforming government organisations
Outcome: Systemic and structural transformation of mainstream government organisations to improve accountability for Closing the Gap and ensure they are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, including through the services they fund.
Target: Decrease in the proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples who have experiences of racism.
What you can do: Ensure you’re up to date on the Aboriginal Cultural Education training and familiar with the Closing the Gap National Agreement. Complete the mandatory Aboriginal Cultural Education – Lets take the first steps together and the Anti-Racism Policy training on My Professional Learning.
Reform 4 – Shared access to data and information at a regional level
Outcome: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to, and the capability to use, locally-relevant data and information to set and monitor the implementation of efforts to close the gap, their priorities and drive their own development.
Target: Increase the number of regional data projects to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities to make decisions about Closing the Gap and their development.
What you can do: Understand the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty and its role in empowering Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to own their stories and truth. Effective Indigenous data governance enables Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to make the best decisions to support their communities.
Reform 5 – Employment, business growth and economic prosperity
Outcome: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in NSW are empowered to access pathways through education, training and employment that align with their aspirations, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander businesses grow and flourish.
Target: An increase in jobs and pathways to employment, investment in the Aboriginal community-controlled sector, and an integrated approach to procurement across the NSW Government. The procurement of goods and services through Aboriginal businesses is supported through the Aboriginal Procurement Policy and enhanced through the Aboriginal Participation Strategy.
What you can do: Familiarise yourself with the Connected Communities Strategy, to understand how schools are tailoring education to suit the needs of Aboriginal students.
You can also have a look at the My Future, My Culture, My Way case studies to learn how high school education is providing the foundations for students to go on to own successful Aboriginal-owned businesses.
By improving our knowledge and listening to Aboriginal voices, we will work together to help build educational environments that are culturally safe, free of racism and wonderful places to work and to learn.
For further information about the department’s commitment to Closing the Gap, please contact Closing the Gap - Education.