Staff at the inaugural PM& C National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee conference, June 2017.
The Closing the Gap agenda is a priority for all Australian governments. The 2017 Closing the Gap Report was tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister on 14 February 2017. It was the ninth report to be released since the targets were agreed. The Department worked with its regional network, with other departments and Indigenous business, 33 Creative, to prepare and design the report.
The report showed mixed results, with only one of the seven Closing the Gap targets (Year 12 education attainment) on track. It also showcased real success being achieved by individuals, communities, organisations and government, particularly through community-led solutions.
A website was developed to support the release of the Closing the Gap Report that provides information, resources and videos that show progress so far. PM&C provided a platform for ministers to share their experiences and the work under way to improve outcomes for communities in remote areas. This reflects the increased focus on whole-of-government action being led by the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet.
To complement the release of the report, an Indigenous Professionals event celebrated the success and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across a range of professions. It highlighted achievements and the importance of education in achieving goals. For those attending the event, it provided opportunities to engage with the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament. The event received overwhelming positive feedback from participants.
In 2018, four of the seven Closing the Gap targets will expire. COAG has agreed to refresh the 10-year-old Closing the Gap agenda to reflect the current needs and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Department has established a taskforce that will draw on the expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and communities. At the June 2017 COAG meeting, the Prime Minister presented the beginnings of a strength-based refreshed agenda to improve the prosperity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. COAG members were supportive of the approach.