Australia

Indigenous-run services given $50m to take control of Closing the Gap

Almost $50 million will be put towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services over the next four years aiming to help end entrenched disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

The federal government will partner with state and territories to help fund the organisations, which will be placed at the heart of new Closing the Gap efforts to redress inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the broader community.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said the only way to Close the Gap was for Indigenous Australians to own, commit to, and drive improvements.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said the only way to Close the Gap was for Indigenous Australians to own, commit to, and drive improvements.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

A new national agreement was signed off last week to lift the proportion of Indigenous Australians completing secondary school to 96 per cent in the next decade under a historic community-led push to close the gap in disadvantage levels.

It will also aim to reduce the number of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in detention by at least 30 per cent by 2031 and at least 15 per cent for adults.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said the funding was a significant contribution towards the priority reforms identified in the new agreement.

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He said it was now recognised by governments the only way to Close the Gap was for Indigenous Australians to own, commit to, and drive improvements.

"All Australian governments have agreed that strengthening the community-controlled sector is a priority reform and I look forward to co-contributions from each jurisdiction to further support these organisations," he said.

After more than a decade of failure and backwards steps, federal and state governments agreed to the first Indigenous-led reform of the targets, increasing them from seven to 16.

Another four priority reform areas have been introduced, including shared decision making and structural reform of government organisations to benefit Indigenous Australians.

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Formal and community-controlled sectors will be developed to support the new targets, with promised "systemic and structural transformation" of government organisations designed to improve accountability in the targets.

Pat Turner, the lead convener of a coalition of 50 peak Indigenous organisations said the body had fought hard to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

"They deliver better services for our people, get better outcomes, protect our cultures and employ more First Nations people in their home communities," she said.

"This new funding for the initial delivery of priority reform two will help strengthen and build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver additional services to First Nations people, including in new areas like housing.

She said the Coalition of Peaks expected all governments to step up and make their contribution.

Ms Turner said supporting community-controlled organisations would also, over time, deliver more jobs to First Nations people through community-controlled organisations.

The Victorian government was the state to invest funding last week when Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams announced $3.3 million over four years.

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