Closing the Gap is about ensuring life opportunities and outcomes for First Nations people in Australia become equal to those of non-Indigenous Australians. The Coalition of Peaks together with Australian governments and the Close the Gap Campaign, are working to achieve 17 socio-economic targets set out in the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap by 2031.
Back in 2007, the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) launched the Closing the Gap Strategy, a national framework that aimed to provide a coordinated strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The strategy worked to seven target areas including child mortality, early childhood education, school attendance, reading and numeracy, year 12 or equivalent attainment and employment, and life expectancy.
However, after more than a decade, the strategy did not have sufficient success in closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people in the target areas.
Following some early positive successes, setbacks came from insufficient funding, lack of national cooperation and agreement, and hesitancy to lean into self-determination by First Nations communities.
After 10 years, only two of the Close the Gap targets were on track and the life expectancy gap was again widening.
In July 2020, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was announced between the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations and all Australian governments.
The parties committed to a new way of developing and implementing policies and programs, while the key objective continued to be overcoming the entrenched inequalities faced by First Nations people.
Read more about the National Agreement, including the four Priority Reform Areas, and the 17 targets in our Factsheet.
Why is closing the gap so important?
For the most part, Australians have the privilege of experiencing one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world. However, this is not the case for many minority groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who can on average expect to live up to eight years fewer than non-Indigenous Australians. This is due to the reality that First Nations people in Australia experience higher rates of preventable illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes, socio-economic disadvantages such as access to safe and affordable housing, racism, disproportionate rates of incarceration, and impacted life outcomes overall as a result.
As a founding member of the Close the Gap Campaign – an alliance of First Nations-led and non-Indigenous health and community organisations – ANTAR together with thousands of everyday Australians are calling on governments to take real and measurable action to achieve equality across life outcomes for First Nations Australians by 2031.
Beginning in 2007, the Close the Gap Campaign is the result of the Australian public’s overwhelming support for improving health outcomes for First Nations Peoples. It is a highly regarded movement that has pushed for better government policies. Visit the Campaign’s website to learn more.