Share decision making needed to Close the Gap: survey

A comprehensive assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ views on a new national agreement for Closing the Gap has found overwhelming support for formal partnerships between indigenous communities and governments.

This was one of four reform priorities highlighted in a community engagement report produced by the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) following nearly 70 community meetings and a survey of almost 1,700 respondents.

The second reform priority concerned expanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services, and giving the communities greater say in how programs and services are designed and provided to Indigenous people.

The third priority concerned improving mainstream institutions and the services they provide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people told us that mainstream organisations are important but must not replace or undermine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations,” the report said.

The report later added those organisations “should appoint Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all levels of seniority and support workforce progression.”

The Coalition of Peaks has proposed a fourth reform priority – the development of local data that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can control and access.

“Access to data helps us make informed decisions on the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programs for our communities,” the report said.

“It ensures we are equal partners with governments and can make shared decisions on issues that are important to us.”

The Coalition of Peaks said it produced the engagement report “because, during the engagements, many people spoke about being consulted on policies or programs in the past, but they did not know if they had been heard.”

The Australian Local Government Association is part of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap.