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Minister for Indigenous Australians’ foreword

“I hope that the renewed focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the commitment for structural reform to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as partners in decision-making that we’re currently seeing leads to increased action on the National Agreement next year.” (Ms Pat Turner AM, 16 December 2022)

The Hon Linda Burney MPTogether with Ms Pat Turner, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, it has been my great privilege to co-chair my first two Joint Council meetings in August and December 2022.

I thank all partners, including the Coalition of Peaks members, the President of the Australian Local Government Association and state and territory Ministerial colleagues for the goodwill, cooperation and commitment to working together to progress actions under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).

2023 will be a landmark year in the history of our nation. As we move towards a referendum on the Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there will be unprecedented focus on the challenges facing our people, and the critical need to accelerate progress towards Closing the Gap.

The 2023 Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan moves beyond the foundational Commonwealth attitude to Closing the Gap planning. It outlines specific and actionable plans for accelerating efforts to embed the Priority Reforms and achieve the socio-economic targets.

By tabling the Implementation Plan at the very beginning of the parliamentary year, we are placing it at the heart of this government’s ambitious agenda to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Like the Voice, the National Agreement is premised on the belief that when First Nations peoples have a genuine say in the design and delivery of services that affect them, better life outcomes are achieved. It also recognises that the community-controlled sector is crucial to accelerating progress against targets.

Of course, government has a critical role to play, and we will work to ensure that the National Agreement is built into government decision-making.

In future, we hope to do this alongside the Voice, whose advice will amplify the important gains already made by the Coalition of Peaks in negotiating the National Agreement.

During 2023, I look forward to leading and coordinating the Commonwealth’s contribution to increased action on the National Agreement. Furthermore, I look forward to all Australians having an opportunity to vote on enshrining a First Nations Voice in the Constitution.

Concrete actions are what is required to improve outcomes for First Nations people, and that’s exactly what the Voice will help to deliver.


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