MEDIA RELEASE – ACT joins national Closing the Gap Partnership

Released 27/03/2019

The ACT Government has formally joined a national Closing the Gap partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies. The Chief Minister Andrew Barr was the first State or Territory leader to sign the Partnership Agreement with the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations and the Commonwealth Government on Friday 22 March.

The Partnership Agreement establishes a formal partnership between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, fundamentally changing how governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples towards Closing the Gap.

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Rachel Stephen-Smith is today representing the ACT at the inaugural Joint Council on Closing the Gap in Brisbane, and has welcomed the Coalition of Peaks’ leadership in ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are at the table as new targets and strategies are developed to address the unacceptable gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The Partnership Agreement guarantees that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations will be sitting alongside Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers, co-designing the new Closing the Gap framework and ensuring it is implemented effectively,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the answers and the ACT Government has expressed concern throughout the Closing the Gap refresh process that their voices were not being heard. We have welcomed the Coalition of Peaks’ advocacy to turn that around and were very pleased to sign the Partnership Agreement.

“I particularly want to congratulate Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, for her leadership and tenacity in driving this ground-breaking partnership model.

“The ACT Government has a nation-leading approach to engaging with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body working as a powerful voice for self-determination. It is great to see this has been recognised nationally through the Elected Body’s membership of the Coalition of Peaks.

“Self-determination is also the guiding principle underpinning the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019-2028, through which the ACT Government will deliver on our Closing the Gap commitments.

“I look forward to continuing the work to finalise the new Closing the Gap framework with the Coalition of Peaks and my Commonwealth, State and Territory counterparts.”

– Statement ends –

Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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