Release type: Joint Media Release


Next Step towards Closing the Gap


The Hon Linda Burney MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians
The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education
The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Minister for Social Services
Senator The Hon Malarndirri McCarthy
Senator for the Northern Territory
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health
Patricia Turner AM
Lead Convenor, Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations
CEO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

In a historic moment under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, today the Australian Government will release its second Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, alongside the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) annual Implementation Plan.

The Implementation Plan is about practical action. The gap is not closing fast enough and on some measures it is going backwards.

The new Implementation Plan gives purpose and direction to our efforts to transform Government in line with the National Agreement’s four Priority Reforms that include formal partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations on policies and programs that have a significant impact on them.

The Australian Government’s Implementation Plan invests $424 million in additional funding to Closing the Gap. New measures in the 2023 Implementation Plan include:

  1. $150 million over four years to support First Nations water infrastructure and provide safe and reliable water for remote and regional Indigenous communities through the National Water Grid Fund. This will be targeted at communities that currently do not have access to clean drinking water.
  2. $111.7 million Commonwealth contribution to a new one-year partnership with the Northern Territory Government to accelerate building of new remote housing, targeted at addressing the worst over-crowding.
  3. $11.8 million over two years for the National Strategy for Food Security in remote First Nations communities. This is about making essential food more affordable and accessible in remote communities.
  4. Continued funding of $68.6 million over two years for Family Violence and Prevention Legal Service providers to deliver legal and non-legal support to women and children experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence.
  5. $21.9 million over five years to Support Families impacted by family violence and at risk of engaging in the child protection system, through delivery of seven place-based, trauma-aware and culturally responsive healing programs aimed at early intervention and recovery, and keeping families together.
  6.  $38.4 million over four years to boost On-Country Education for remote First Nations students. This includes greater access to junior rangers and more choice for families of culturally appropriate distance learning.
  7. $21.6 million to support quality boarding for rural and remote students for an additional year.

These measures will be designed and delivered in line with the Priority Reforms and through formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities and where support for Aboriginal organisations to deliver the services will be prioritised.

This is on top of the $1.2 billion in practical initiatives being implemented following the October budget.

The plan details each parties’ responsibility in the next steps towards achieving the Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap to support improvement against the socio-economic targets. This joint tabling attests to the strengthening of the partnership between government and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

The whole-of-government approach, set out in the government’s Plan, brings together in one place all of the actions that each Department and Agency is taking to achieve the Closing the Gap outcomes, so that we can be held to account and coordinate with the Coalition of Peaks and our state and territory government and local government partners.                                                                                                                          

The government Implementation Plan also accelerates specific actions on the National Agreement’s four Priority Reforms to transform the relationship between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

Restoring the Closing the Gap statement to its original place at the start of the Parliamentary year demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the implementation of the National Agreement is front and centre in efforts to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Commonwealth’s Implementation Plan is available on the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s website.

The Coalition of the Peaks Implementation Plan is available online.

Quotes attributable to Minister Burney:

“A lot of the foundational work has been done over the last two years and now we can really turn our efforts towards real action and real change.

“We saw the outcomes in the 2022 Closing the Gap Annual Report and know that we need to be doing more as a Government.

“This additional funding is a concrete commitment from the Albanese Government to prioritise Closing the Gap and see sustained progress over the life of the National Agreement.

“Our measures are going to be more specific and more targeted, making real impacts that complement work underway in states and territories, and back-in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to lead work in their communities.

“Every day, we get better at working together with our jurisdictional partners and with First Nations communities and this Implementation Plan is our commitment to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Quotes attributable to Minister Clare:

“This is all about improving education outcomes for Indigenous students.

“These initiatives will boost on-country education for First Nations students, delivering improved access to junior rangers and more choice for families when it comes to culturally appropriate distance learning.

We are also investing in quality boarding for rural and remote students for an additional year.”

Quotes attribute to Minister Plibersek:

“In a country like Australia it is shocking that there are still communities who don’t have a clean and reliable source of drinking water. Many of these communities are remote, First Nations communities.

“There are towns that are unable to run dialysis machines as there is not enough clean and safe water. There are communities where the heavy metals and minerals in the water are at such concentrations that the water cannot be consumed safely. We want to start to change that with this investment.

“We are targeting $150 million from the National Water Grid Fund to support critical water infrastructure for remote First Nations communities.

“This is only possible because last year we changed the Investment Framework of the National Water Grid to allow investment in town water supply projects.”

Quotes attributable to Minister Rishworth:

“We know family and domestic violence disproportionately impacts First Nations women and children.

“They are 34-times more likely to experience family and domestic violence. This is unacceptable.

“The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032 outlines the importance of recovery and healing from trauma, and the physical, mental, emotional and economic impacts of violence.

“This Implementation Plan will help towards our goal of ending violence in one generation.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister McCarthy:

“This implementation plan is the first under Labor and will help turn the tide towards more Indigenous Australians living longer, healthier and happier lives.”

“The substantial investment in clean drinking water, remote housing and food security will be a game-changer for so many Indigenous Australians who live out in bush communities.”

“Together, this comprehensive support will help build stronger families and communities today, and ensure future generations can get the best start to life and achieve their full potential.”

“Indigenous Australians know the challenges and opportunities facing them more than anyone else and it is so important that decision-making and ownership is taken over the policies affecting their communities.”

Quotes attributable to Pat Turner AM:

“The Coalition of Peaks welcome the Commonwealth’s commitments to accelerate the implementation of the four Priority Reforms in the National Agreement.

“Full implementation of the Priority Reforms is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people said is needed by governments if we are to improve our life outcomes and close the gap.

“The new funding is also welcome. We have decades of underinvestment in our communities and organisations to be addressed and this funding will go some way to overturning that. It is critical that the new investment is delivered in line with the Priority Reforms and through formal partnerships between government and communities and organisations on the ground.

“The Coalition of Peaks annual implementation plan outlines our responsibilities as parties to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap with governments. As a community-controlled structure, our Plan importantly sets out the Coalition of Peaks’ obligations under the National Agreement to our community-controlled organisations, our memberships and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.”