We need a voice to close the widening gap in the Northern Territory New Productivity Commission data shows that the Northern Territory is going backwards on eight out of the 17 socio-economic Closing the Gap targets.

“Business as usual is failing our people,” said Dr John Paterson, APO NT Convenor and Acting CEO of NAAJA. “We need a Voice to Parliament so our solutions can be heard.”

While states such as Western Australia and Victoria are making real progress on Closing the Gap, the Northern Territory is getting worse from an already low baseline.

“The NT has the highest proportion of Aboriginal people, but it lacks a real whole of government commitment to implementing our solutions.

“The Closing the Gap partnership depends on the recognition of our expertise,” Donna Ah Chee, APO NT Governing Group member, and Acting CEO of AMSANT.

Most concerning is the adult imprisonment numbers, which are increasing at the highest rate in the country. The Northern Territory Government has walked away from its commitment to implementing the recommendations from the Don Dale Royal Commission, and instead has reinforced and fortified punitive aspects of the justice system that we know do not work.

The NT is the only jurisdiction where the employment gap is widening.

“We have long presented alternatives to the failed and costly Community Development Program (CDP) that will create real jobs in our communities,” Dr John Paterson said. “It is wasteful and a missed opportunity not to formally partner with us on solutions.”

The gap in the life expectancy for Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory is also getting wider. Aboriginal women die 12.8 years younger than non-Aboriginal women here. Many of the Safe Houses in the Northern Territory are in a state of disrepair and neglect, if they are present in communities at all.

We call on governments to invest in Aboriginal owned and led programs to support women’s safety.

Housing in the NT remains almost twice as crowded as in all other States and Territories. The new National Partnership Agreement on Housing and Homelands is an opportunity for the NT to ensure the investment we need to close this gap.

While Aboriginal youth everywhere else are increasingly getting educated, trained and employed, our young Territorians are experiencing the worst outcomes in the country. Current, mainstream education systems are failing our children.

We call on the NTG to speed up delivering on its commitment to reform school funding so remote schools are not missing out on needs-based resourcing.

“We welcome the opportunity for a new way of working with government. At the moment, there is an inconsistency between the rhetoric and the reality. It’s one thing to be at the table and another to be heard and listened to” said Jerome Cubillo, CEO of NTIBN.

Download the Annual data report | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

Download the Media Release

For Media enquiries please contact: APO NT Manager, email: secretariat@apont.org.au | Phone: 0473 423 806

The Central Land Council today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of more than $1 billion in new measures committed over the next five years towards Closing the Gap outcomes.

CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said that the new funding is a good start.

“This is a welcome step forward to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and communities through a whole-of-government approach in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled partners,” Mr Turner said. 

The first implementation plan outlines how the governments will meet 17 new targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap after the previous scheme failed.

“We need these updates to keep everyone accountable. We can’t afford another fail on the governments’ report card.” 

The funding injection includes a new redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory.

“We’re pleased to see the Commonwealth take responsibility for the historic injustices that continue to reverberate through families and communities today. This is an important and long overdue step towards meaningful reconciliation,” Mr Turner said.

“We also welcome the additional funds for Aboriginal community controlled health organisations. Aboriginal health services have demonstrated their critical role throughout this pandemic. Further investment is the best way to ensure improved health outcomes for our people.”

The CLC will continue to work with governments and the Coalition of Peaks to ensure that Australia delivers all its targets under the Closing the Gap agreement.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

New National Agreement on Closing the Gap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ life outcomes

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) today welcomed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap as a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments – one that is based on shared decision making on policies and programs that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

APO NT joined with more than fifty other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies to steer the new Closing the Gap Agreement in the right direction.

The negotiations on the National Agreement with governments were hard fought, with targets now in place that can make a real difference to the lives of our people.

More than 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were consulted on what should be included in the new National Agreement, guiding us in our negotiations. The Agreement shows that they have been heard.

The four Priority Reforms were overwhelmingly supported during the community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year and will fundamentally change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The Reforms commit governments to new partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country; strengthen community-controlled organisations to deliver closing the gap services; address structural racism within government agencies and organisations; and improve sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to support shared decision making.

APO NT is pleased to see the National Agreement includes a new target for Priority Reform One, for formal partnership arrangements to support Closing the Gap to be in place in each state and territory. This enshrines agreed joint decision-making roles and responsibilities and the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to choose their own representatives.

John Paterson, spokesperson for APO NT, said “The new National Agreement is a critical step forward that acknowledges the voice of Aboriginal people here in the Territory. We want to see a greater improvement in educational outcomes, more jobs and training opportunities, reduction in incarceration rates and real investments in tackling the social determinants of health and creating more opportunities for Aboriginal people to establish businesses to become self-sufficient.

“Housing is critical to Closing the Gap and underpins key drivers of change, especially in terms health and education outcomes.” said the Central Land Council’s executive manager policy and governance, Dr Josie Douglas.

“Here in the Territory we look forward to working with the NT and Commonwealth governments on co-designing a new community-driven housing model that can solve our homelessness crisis and overcrowding in remote communities.”

APO NT has long acknowledged that Aboriginal people have the solutions and should be the key drivers of change. “Working together with governments is the way we can ensure positive outcomes for our people”, said Mr Paterson.

To read the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, head to the Coalition of Peaks website: http://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/final-national-agreement-on-closing-the-gap/

For more information and media enquiries

APO NT: John Paterson on 0418 486 310 and Dr Josie Douglas on 0439 854 750

Coalition of Peaks: Jo Scard on 0457 725 953 or jo@fiftyacres.com; and Julia Macerola on 0422 337 332 or julia@fiftyacres.com

PDF Version of Media Release – http://www.amsant.org.au/apont/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/APO-NT-MR-National-Close-the-Gap-Agreement-Final.pdf

Kind regards,

Brionee Noonan

APO NT Coordinator

Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory [APO NT]

P. (08) 8944 6672 I M. 0488 006 680 I brionee.noonan@amsant.org.au