• Nigel Scullion declined to make comment on reports the Government was rejecting the Voice to parliament recommendation. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion is meeting with ministers from federal, state and territory governments to discuss overhauling the Closing the Gap strategy.
23 Oct 2017 - 2:12 PM  UPDATED 23 Oct 2017 - 2:12 PM

Indigenous Affairs ministers from around the country are meeting in Canberra on Monday to focus national efforts on Indigenous policy, with a focus on the Closing the Gap revamp.  

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion will present a new plan for the next decade to his state and territory counterparts in the first meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Ministerial Council on Indigenous Affairs. 

“As we come to the tenth anniversary of Closing the Gap, we have an opportunity to redouble our efforts in the areas where we need to do better and develop a truly national, collaborative approach to improving the lives of First Australians," he said. 

It comes almost a decade since the Closing the Gap targets were developed to reduce the disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in relation to life expectancy, child mortality and employment. 

'Governments at all levels failing Australia's First Peoples,' Indigenous leaders
After a decade and despite bipartisan support, Australian governments at all levels are failing Australia's First Peoples. But Indigenous leaders say there is a way forward.
Ten years of Close the Gap; Why are we sicker, poorer and living shorter than the rest of Australia?
Opinion: Governments continue to fail at meeting Close the Gap targets, in some cases going backwards. Patricia Turner points to solutions already working in some communities, and asks our leaders; why they can't do better for First Australians.

This year's Closing the Gap report showed slow progress on key targets to improve the health and wealth of Indigenous Australians. It revealed only one key target was on track out of seven of the Federal Government's strategy to close the gap by 2020. 

National Congress of Australia's First Peoples Co-Chair, Rod Little, says after ten years it is disappointing. 

"[It is] shameful for successive governments for not getting this right," he told the ABC. 

The ABC has reported the revised scheme will, for the first time, consider including 'community and cultural targets' and consultation on whether the strategy will extend beyond health, education and employment targets.   

Mr Little says the Closing the Gap targets needs to go even further and include justice targets to address the alarming rates of Indigenous incarceration.  

"We know the government at the moment is hesitant to include justice targets in a national framework when they are the states and territories responsibility, but so is education and health," he said. 

Indigenous leaders have echoed calls for governments to listen to their solutions. Following the release of the Closing the Gap report, more than thirty organisations joined to call for urgent change. 

Amongst the recommendations, the Redfern Statement calls for a renewed commitment to Closing the Gap in this generation, by and in partnership with COAG and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Today's COAG meeting will kick-start a process the government plans to finalise in a COAG leaders meeting next June, a month before the current Closing the Gap targets will expire. 

Related reading
COMMENT: Who Is Closing the Gap?
Aboriginal and South Sea Islander artist, Marcus Corowa discusses Closing the Gap, Harmony Day and the proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
What's the difference between Close the Gap and Closing the Gap?
Yesterday and today people are talking about Close the Gap, but only a month ago people were talking about Closing the Gap? Even though they sound identical, and they are both talking about disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes, there is an important difference between the two.
Could the Redfern Statement reform the failing Indigenous affairs policies?
Before the nation heard where the state of Indigenous affairs is at, an impressive coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders handed the government their solution.