IAHA MEDIA RELEASE: Productivity Commission review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap: a call for transformational change


7 February 2024

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisation, welcomes the release of the Productivity Commission report on progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. We support the findings of the review, led by Commissioners Romlie Mokak and Natalie Siegel-Brown, regarding the governments shortcomings in fulfilling their commitments to put reform into action.

“The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, in particular the four priority reform areas, provide an avenue for change. A lack of investment and progress of reforms has failed to appropriately empower our organisations or address the administrative, reporting, funding and other burdens we experience. Coupled with the siloed nature of governments, this hinders our ability to effectively pursue the critical work we do, on the ground, to drive positive change within our communities” said IAHA Chief Executive Officer, Donna Murray.

IAHA Chairperson, Nicole Turner, said that “recognising these challenges is essential in fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities, and underscore the urgent need for transformational change. Governments and mainstream organisations must commit to engaging differently on all levels and in a culturally responsive way. IAHA reinforce the importance of increasing accountability to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, not only for outcomes but also ways of working, a message underscored by the report. As the report says, we would welcome a genuine commitment to working collaboratively and cohesively towards a shared goal, focusing on empowerment and power-sharing, to achieve progress.”

Commissioner Siegel-Brown added, “The lack of progress we have seen reflects a disregard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledges and solutions throughout government. Breaking down these entrenched attitudes and ways of working will require a focused and deliberate effort from every department and organisation.”

We strongly urge for governments to embrace these opportunities and commit to the proper implementation of the reforms outlined and in the spirit of the agreement. This requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders to prioritise the voices and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring the policies and programs are developed and implemented with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership at all stages.

In health – and the many related sectors where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce drive positive outcomes for all Australians – the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 provide two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led frameworks for change. While these were agreed to by all governments, commitment to action has again been lacking.

As we move forward, let us collectively commit to embracing transformational change, fostering genuine partnership, and working towards a future where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are thriving in ongoing connection to self, spirit, and place.




Media enquires
Paul Gibson
IAHA Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships
paul@iaha.com.au or (02) 6285 1010.

February 7, 2024

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Posted by: Nawsheen Hyland