Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to set and monitor the implementation of efforts to close the gap, their priorities and drive their own development.
Increase the number of regional data projects to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make decisions about Closing the Gap and their development.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Australians
With agreement from all Ministers to maximise opportunities for achievement of Closing the Gap outcomes in their portfolios, with a specific focus on addressing Priority Reforms.
The path forward
The Commonwealth is working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the following main priorities:
- Provision by governments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities of access to disaggregated regional data and information on Closing the Gap, subject to meeting privacy requirements
- Establishment of partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government agencies to improve collection, access, management and use of data, including identifying improvements to existing data collection and management
- Governments making data more transparent by informing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people what data they have and how it can be accessed
- Building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to collect and use data.
These strategic priorities emphasise the importance of working in partnership. They aim to provide significant changes in data availability and use arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities.
The focus on Priority Reform Four will, over time, produce more in-depth data stocktakes and a far greater flow of data from governments to Indigenous organisations and communities. This will identify what data is currently collected, who holds it, what data is missing, and how key data collections can be returned to communities.
Actions under Priority Reform Four will also assist in enhancing the evidence base to inform both evaluations of individual policies and programs, and larger reviews, such as those conducted regularly under the National Agreement by the Productivity Commission and the Indigenous-led review.
The Commonwealth commits to:
- Providing equal access for communities to locally relevant data and information, based on priorities set by the community, and identification by communities of data that would be of greatest use to their objectives
- Coordinating and providing equal access for communities to data and information that may be collected and held by other levels of government, and by other sectors and entities, where required
- Facilitating data capability within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, in line with Clauses 71(d) and 72(d) of the National Agreement
Providing meaningful change in relation to Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Indigenous Data Governance, and working with other levels of government, and other sectors and entities, to make practical changes.
Establishing community data projects
The National Agreement requires that, by 2023, the Parties will establish data projects in up to six locations across Australia. By late 2022, nominations for five project locations have been received. These are South Australia (Western Suburbs of Adelaide); the Northern Territory (Maningrida); Western Australia (Kimberley); New South Wales (Blacktown Local Government Area); and Queensland (Doomadgee). There is scope for additional nominations to be received. The Commonwealth, through NIAA, is playing a key coordinating role for the projects through the provision of secretariat functions.
As part of its commitment to the Community Data Projects, the Commonwealth has also funded the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to develop up to six pilot community data portal sites by the end of 2023. The six Community Data Projects will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to access and use locally relevant disaggregated data and information in partnership with all levels of government.
The NSW data project has advanced to the community consultation stage, which has identified a number of topics for consideration. Commonwealth, state and local governments are working together to identify data sources for the identified topics and to create a secure portal to share that data with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities.
Considerations of Indigenous Data Sovereignty, Indigenous Data Governance, privacy, data repatriation and data linkage are regularly worked through by communities in overseeing these projects.
Implementing the Data Development Plan (Clause 92 of the National Agreement)
The Closing the Gap Data Development Plan (DDP) was approved by Joint Council in August 2022. It outlines and prioritises the data development actions under each socio-economic outcome, and is intended to facilitate a richer array of high quality data sources attached to all socio-economic outcomes over the life of the National Agreement. The Plan explicitly considered the importance of community data sources, and of community access to data, within each priority item identified. Further, a key weighting was given to items that prioritised or furthered the use of community data – reflecting the importance of Priority Reform Four.
The Commonwealth has established an Interdepartmental Committee focused on the implementation of the DDP, as well as a Data and Reporting Working Group, co-chaired by the Commonwealth and the Coalition of the Peaks. These entities will continue to play a key role in assigning responsibilities and tracking actions for data development.
A priority action for the Commonwealth in the next 12 months is to ensure that all socio-economic outcomes and Priority Reforms have fully established measurement frameworks and data development timelines, and that data gaps, where identified, are given highest priority with regard to development actions. As outlined in the DDP, further work on supplementary data sources, and more frequent data collection, will also be prioritised.
Deputy Secretaries Data Group on Indigenous Data
The Deputy Secretaries Data Group Sub-Committee and Data Champions Network Working Group on Indigenous data emerged out of the recommendations of a 2021 ‘Guidance Paper on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data’. The paper recognised the need across the Commonwealth for: increased consistency with practices regarding Indigenous Data; better data quality (to address gaps in regional data); improved access and relevance of data to Indigenous peoples; and respectful engagement with the Indigenous Data Sovereignty movement in Australia.
The Deputy Secretaries Data Group agreed to establish a sub-committee to address these issues. In the spirit of co-design, the sub-committee is composed of Australian Public Service, non-Australian Public Service, and Indigenous members, including Coalition of Peaks members, academics, community representatives and data experts. This body is working to produce an Australian Public Service-wide Framework relating to Indigenous data and its governance by the end of 2023.
Connected Beginnings to solve complex problems
The Connected Beginnings Program is committed to empowering communities with the confidence, power, and efficiency to know what’s working and to solve complex social problems together. This is being achieved by ensuring communities have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to set and monitor the implementation of efforts to embed Priority Reform Four, achieve their priorities and drive their own development. The program acknowledges Maiam nayri Wingara principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty (IDS) and respects that the realisation of IDS will be different for each partnering community.
To reduce the burden of data collection at the site level, the Commonwealth has undertaken data‑sharing arrangements across agencies and state and territory governments. The data collected is contextual and disaggregated at community level and incorporated into a set of interactive digital data dashboards that allows communities to track the numbers that are important to them and use this data to inform priorities and local decision-making. Data is relevant to the program goals around children thriving by the age of five and empowers sustainable self-determination and effective self-governance.
The Department of Education is also working with colleagues across the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health and Aged Care, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure a coordinated approach to data sharing in communities where there is an overlap of respective programs. This work will commence in early 2023 with bringing together communities to plan how this work can best achieve their data needs.
First Nations Disability Data Scoping Study
Access to relevant, appropriate, culturally safe, local and national First Nations disability data is critical to enabling community-controlled organisations and the wider disability sector, including government, to design and deliver responsive policies and programs to improve outcomes with and for First Nations peoples with disability. The First Nations Disability Data Scoping Study aims to identify data gaps in First Nations and disability prevalence, administrative and community-led data infrastructures. An important objective of the project is to deliver improvements in identifying the extent of disability in First Nations populations as previous siloed data collections have underestimated prevalence. The Scoping Study will develop a First Nations Data Strategy to strengthen approaches to collection, administration and analysis of First Nations and disability data to provide sufficient focus to all experiences of disability in regional, remote or urban contexts, gender, age or other intersectional lenses.
The Scoping Study was developed in partnership by First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN), Department of Social Services, National Indigenous Australians Agency, Worimi Scholar Dr Scott Avery of Western Sydney University, other members of the Coalition of Peaks, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As an action under the Closing the Gap Disability Sector Strengthening Plan, the two-year project commenced in mid-2022. The project is funded by the Commonwealth through the Sector Strengthening Plan Virtual Funding Pool.
The project supports Priority Reform Four, including commitments to ensure communities have access to, and the capability to use locally relevant data, can inform how data is disaggregated, ensure a focus on diverse experiences (regional and remote) and aligning with principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.
Summary of new actions
|Six community data portal sites
|Minister for Indigenous Australians
|Fully established measurement frameworks and data development timeline for socio-economic outcomes
|Minister for Indigenous Australians
|Fully established measurement frameworks and data development timeline for Priority Reforms
|Minister for Indigenous Australians
|Completion by mid-2024
|APS-wide Framework for Indigenous Data and Governance (Deputy Secretaries Sub-Committee and Working Group)
|Minister for Finance Minister for Indigenous Australians
|Connected Beginnings development of approach to data sharing in communities with overlap of programs
|Minister for Early Childhood Education Minister for Indigenous Australians Minister for Health and Ageing
|Commence early 2023
|First Nations Disability Data Scoping Study
|Treasurer Minister for Social Services Minister for Indigenous Australians
|2022 to 2024
*A full appendix of new and existing measures being undertaken by the Commonwealth to support Closing the Gap efforts is on the NIAA website, at Closing the Gap implementation measures.