An online survey and community consultations have allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to have their say on the new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is set to replace the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.

The agreement is currently being drafted in a partnership between the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Peaks, a representative body hosting around 50 First Nations peak organisations.

Between September and December of 2019, the Coalition of Peaks partnered with governments to facilitate meetings with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

With 70 meetings within cities, regional towns, remote communities across the country, the Coalition of Peaks engaged with 2,300 individuals. This was furthered by the 1,700 people who responded to the online survey.

The Coalition of Peaks has now released a summary of the results of these consultations and survey.

It found that over 90 percent of people support the development of formal partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around Closing the Gap, investing in and growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services which will deliver service to community, and improving mainstream service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

There was overwhelming agreement that decision-making must be shared and therefore all parties require access to the same information. This leads the Coalition of Peaks to propose the development of local data projects as the fourth reform priority.

Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner AM, recognises the voice of community is very clear in identifying the key to success lies within reforming government processes.

“Participants and survey respondents were united in their support for the priority reforms, speaking with one clear voice,” Turner said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities know what works for them and have charted a clear way forward for the new national agreement on Closing the Gap.

“It was essential to the Coalition of Peaks that our communities were engaged in the

development of the next Closing the Gap agreement from the beginning.

“The Coalition of Peaks has listened and is now working so that governments also hear your voice and put the priority reforms at the heart of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Turner said.

The Coalition of Peaks acknowledges the support of the COAG within engagements and the commitment to engaging First Nations Peoples within the redesign.

The Coalition will now move forward to ensure the collective voice is heard and holds strong within the drafting of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.