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New partnership agreement to close the gap in NSW

New South Wales has become the latest jurisdiction to sign a state-based Closing the Gap partnership agreement to help improve Aboriginal health, education and social outcomes.

The agreement has been signed by the NSW Premier Chris Minns, the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NSW CAPO) and Local Government NSW.

The partnership represents the next step following the Closing the Gap national agreement signed in 2020.

That deal was signed by then-prime minister Scott Morrison, then-premier Gladys Berejiklian, state and territory first ministers, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks, representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service sector.

The 2020 national agreement shared responsibility and decision-making with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, following years of traditional Government-led approaches not achieving the right results.

The NSW Partnership Agreement addresses the first reform priority in the Closing the Gap national agreement – the establishment of formal partnerships and shared decision-making.

The Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap review, released last week, observes that progress on this commitment has largely been weak and has reflected a business-as-usual approach.

Today’s state-based agreement reaffirms the resolute commitment of NSW CAPO, the NSW Government and Local Government NSW to work together on Closing the Gap in full and genuine partnership to achieve better life outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Today’s Partnership Agreement builds on two NSW-specific Closing the Gap Implementation Plans.

NSW is the second jurisdiction after South Australia to formalise a state-based partnership under Closing the Gap, and the first to involve local government.

It reflects that local government can play an essential role in the concerted effort towards Closing the Gap in a range of areas including health, education, employment, and housing.

More information on the NSW Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap

Quotes attributable to Premier Chris Minns:

“We know when Aboriginal people have a say on issues that affect them, we get better outcomes. 

“That’s why all governments have signed up to the Closing the Gap National Agreement.

“This signing today is significant. NSW Government is now the second jurisdiction to develop its own state-based partnership agreement on Closing the Gap, and the only jurisdiction to involve Local Government representation.

“The agreement is a key outcome of our Closing the Gap work and is a significant step forward in how our government will work with Aboriginal community organisations in NSW.

“There continue to be unacceptable disparities in outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal people and communities in NSW.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty David Harris:

“NSW has signed up to the Closing the Gap targets because the status quo hasn’t been good enough for the 300,000-strong Aboriginal community in our state.

“This agreement demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal communities to deliver on our Closing the Gap targets and improve the lives of Aboriginal people living in NSW.

“We recognise that Aboriginal communities and organisations know what works best for them.

“Closing the Gap policies have the best outcomes when they are co-designed and implemented with Aboriginal communities.

“The gap that we seek to close has been created over many decades, and the solutions will take time and concerted effort.

“We will continue to work together to drive change in health, education, family support, justice, housing, land and waters, languages and digital inclusion to enhance the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people and communities across NSW.”

Quotes attributable to John Leha, Co-Chair of CAPO NSW:

“The NSW Partnership Agreement marks a significant step in reaffirming our commitment to working collaboratively with government to deliver better outcomes for and with community.

“We acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in implementing the principles of shared decision-making, partnership and transformation across the public service, broadly.

“Achieving this level of partnership requires a sustained commitment to overhauling government processes around decisions relating to First Nations Peoples. The progress made across the last three years is indicative of what we can achieve with legitimate and ongoing engagement from all parties, and I look forward to continuing to break ground in this space.”


Quotes attributable to Cr Anne Dennis, Co-Chair of CAPO NSW: 

“We welcome the signing of the NSW Partnership Agreement and the renewed commitment of all parties in delivering outcomes for community in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“While this momentous occasion marks a positive step forward to effectively cultivate a partnership, the government must lead the transformation in driving the public service to overhaul processes and building genuine partnerships with First Nations Peoples and communities, on matters that affect them.

“This necessary shift in the balance of power will be crucial in ensuring that decision making processes are shared with and led by community.”


Quotes attributable to Councillor Darriea Turley AM, President of Local Government NSW:

“Local Government has long been providing services and targeted opportunities for Aboriginal communities. Councils play an essential role in the concerted effort towards Closing the Gap in a range of areas including health, education, employment, housing, land and waters.

“The signing of this agreement will help councils work in partnership with other spheres of government and NSW CAPO, to support long lasting improvements in the lives of Aboriginal people in NSW.”

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