The National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations met in Adelaide last week to discuss potential new targets and approaches to the Closing the Gap framework.
Headed by National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) chief executive, Pat Turner, the meeting marked the second time the peak bodies came together outside of government facilitated discussions.
"The Peaks have been hard at work reviewing the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) draft targets on Closing the Gap from December 2018, discussing changes and additional targets that may be needed,” said Ms Turner.
Melissa Clarke, a Ngarrindjeri woman and the director of Aboriginal Services at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement told NITV News the key talking point of the day was how to reach all the targets within the next ten years.
“The targets are just a mechanism but what we actually want is radical structural reform, we want to see progress… our children and our families and communities having far greater positive lived experiences,” said Ms Clarke.
Ms Clarke said the ultimate aim is that by August, COAG will adopt the framework and draft targets put forward by the coalition of peak organisations.
Early intervention, economic development, and tackling racism and discrimination –often seen as barriers to solid policy making– could be elements introduced into the policy's new framework, said Ms Clarke.
Last December in a historic agreement, COAG committed to forming a genuine and formal partnership with the Coalition of Peaks as part of a Closing the Gap refresh.
This was the first time since the government strategy was formed in 2008 that Indigenous representatives have sat at the table and been a part of important decision-making discussions.
Ms Clarke said it was good to see Prime Minister Scott Morrison no longer turning his back on Aboriginal community controlled organisations.
“We have a governance structure and membership of our Aboriginal communities and we are [in the] best place to be able to inform what Closing the Gap can look like for the next ten years,” she said.
“The thing that is going to get us there is the drafting of a new framework.”
Since December, the Coalition of Peaks has met with COAG and the Australian Local Government Association on three separate occasions.
At the first joint council meeting in March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the group would enable decision-makers to work closely with Indigenous representatives to bring about real change to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.