$1billion Federal investment towards Closing the Gap is a start to reform

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Today Scott Morrison delivered the National Agreement on Closing the Gap update in Federal Parliament, including the announcement of a $1 billion investment towards the National Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. With the States launching their plans as well, today is a hopeful start for Indigenous Australians.

The range and scope of funding commitments under this Federal announcement is welcomed, and VACCA believes they will help start much-needed reform processes to decolonise health, wellbeing, justice, safety and quality of life outcomes for Indigenous Australians. The Federal government’s Redress Scheme for Stolen Generations survivors was a significant missing piece for Australia, and the announcement of funding and the offer of personalised apologies is testament to the ongoing advocacy and strength of community to fight for what is fair and just. The fact that WA and QLD do not yet have a scheme remains deeply disappointing.

To achieve sustainable, impactful change nationally in 'Closing the Gap', funding must reach communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and not stay in Government pockets, if we are to truly design self-determined service systems in partnership.

VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett says, “After years of inaction, we must create accountability through measurable outcomes and reporting. Implementing these plans will present challenges for Government and the ACCO sector nationally but with the right resourcing, capacity building and a systems transformation mindset I believe we can achieve meaningful change.”

Given only three of the 16 targets are on track to be achieved, this funding must be outcomes driven and based on highest need, balancing the need for interventions with where people are located, incorporating a mix of city, rural and remote action. Everything must be evaluated, data must be shared and accountability measures put in place. This will be the difference between the first and new National Agreement.

VACCA is also pleased to hear of the commitment from Labor to establish a national Treaty Commission for Truth Telling. This is a powerful step towards Closing the Gap, and to acknowledging the pain of the past, the present and the remarkable resilience of Aboriginal peoples and communities. This process should take key learnings from the recently established Yoo-rrook Truth and Justice Commission in Victoria, the first of its kind.

“Our mob are strong and resilient. We must leverage off the strengths of community, looking to and learning from what is working now in order to build prosperity. Reaching targets should not be our stopping place, there is so much more we can and should do to improve the lives of Aboriginal peoples and communities,” Muriel Bamblett said.

VACCA looks forward to the launch of the Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, and to working with State and Federal Governments to influence and affect meaningful change.

 

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