Skip to content

Closing the Gap Strategy Failing

Indigenous Artwork of a Cross

The National Apology to the Stolen Generation represented a significant step towards acknowledging historical injustices and fostering reconciliation in Australia. However, recent findings from the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Review highlight the lack of progress made towards equality in Australia and remind us of the urgent need to address ongoing disparities faced by Indigenous Australians.

In response to the report, Bishop Charles Gauci – chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People – emphasised the pressing need for Australian Catholics to collaborate with their First Nations counterparts to achieve tangible improvements in their lives.

“This moment urges us to contemplate how our Church entities can better support the health and prosperity of Indigenous communities”.

Bishop Gauci urges ongoing reflection and engagement, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to ensure a more inclusive and supportive future for First Nations peoples.

Key Findings of the Closing the Gap Review:

The Review highlighted 4 areas necessary for the success of closing the gap, and found progress in all to be lacking. Most critically, the review found that closing the gap requires government decision-makers to accept that they do not know what is best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Shared Decision Making:
The agreement needs to be changed to recognise self-determination as the ultimate goal. Shared decision making can occur when there is trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Governments, however until this point, this has been limited to periods of emergency.

Strengthening the Community Controlled Sector:
Successful efforts have been made to strengthen the ACCO Sector, however progress is slow, and overcoming a business-as-usual mindset remains a key challenge of this reform. Plans to strengthen the sector currently lack details and mechanisms of accountability.

Transforming Government Organisations:
The public service and government organisations must commit to transformation that promotes systemic and structural change, improving engagement and accountability, and embedding culturally safe practices. Progress on this transformation remains extremely slow, with no whole-of-government approach, and jeopardises the entirety of the Closing the Gap Agreement

Shared Access to data and information:
Data remains relatively one-way, with governments sharing data they hold, but undervaluing the data capability of First Nations peoples. Governments should take steps to ensure First Nations people have input into how data is used, particularly when creating policy.

By engaging with Catholic Social Teaching and drawing upon the insights provided by the Closing the Gap Review, we can deepen our understanding of the moral imperatives inherent in this process and work towards meaningful and lasting change that upholds human dignity, promotes solidarity, and advances the common good for all Australians, particularly Indigenous peoples.