• Thirteen Aboriginal bodies ask for formal partnership in Closing the Gap Refresh initiative. (AAP)Source: AAP
Peak Indigenous bodies criticise the way in which Australian governments have attempted to consult and partner with them on redesigning the initiative.
Brooke Fryer

19 Nov 2018 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 19 Nov 2018 - 5:15 PM

A group of Indigenous health and representative bodies have signed an open letter calling for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to properly partner with them on Closing the Gap.

The policy and its targets to end disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians is being updated, and the 13 bodies say they haven't been properly involved in the process.

The group is concerned the next COAG meeting will sign off on new targets which haven't been made public. It says this is 'way short of being partners and transparent'.

"We are hoping that the COAG will see this as a no-brainer solution and decide to involve us in the whole process."

It also describes the consultations with Indigenous groups as 'demonstrably inadequate'.

The group is asking COAG to hold off setting these new targets until a 'proper partnership' with Indigenous bodies is put in place.

Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), says Aboriginal people need to be at the centre of the policy's refresh.

"We are hoping that the COAG will see this as a no-brainer solution and decide to involve us in the whole process," she told NITV News. 

"It's been a very superficial process... they've had lots of advice but we don't know how they've reflected it in any of the work that they're finalising," she said. 

This letter follows a previous one sent at the beginning of October, to which only the Northern Territory government replied.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner "said that he would bear in mind our ask while he's at COAG".

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“My biggest concern is the lack of Aboriginal leadership being able to co-design the whole framework,” Ms Turner said.

Karl Briscoe, CEO of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association, says the policy needs a proper overhaul.

"It's been around for 10 years, Closing the Gap, and we haven't seen any improvements so you would think this time around they would look at involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the next phase of this process."

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