A new Closing the Gap agreement is a step closer after peak indigenous groups met with the prime minister in Canberra.
Scott Morrison has pledged $1.5 million towards an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data project, which will be used to help with decision making in order to achieve the Closing the Gap targets.
This has been deemed the fourth reform area of the new agreement, building on three which were decided last August.
Thursday’s meeting comes ahead of the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in March, when the new agreement is expected to be given the stamp of approval.
“I have a simple goal – I want indigenous boys and girls to grow up with the same opportunities in life as every other Australian,” Mr Morrison said as he kicked off the meeting.
“We have such a huge job, which has been the task of governments for many years.”
Mr Morrison says he doesn’t want the government to tell the indigenous community what needs to occur, but for Aboriginal Australians to decide priorities.
“So understanding what that gap is – from indigenous communities – is terribly important to my government.”
The meeting also addressed work being done on an early childhood strategy as well as a housing plan.
The indigenous groups are known as the Coalition of Peaks, made up of nearly 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Coalition of Peaks head Pat Turner described the meeting as a significant step towards indigenous Australians having a greater say in decision making.
“We look forward to positive engagements with other Australian governments over the coming months as the new agreement is finalised,” she said.
The three areas of reform agreed to last August are:
* Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap.
* Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs in agreed priority areas.
* And ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.
Last year’s Closing the Gap report showed just two of the seven targets were on track to be met, prompting Mr Morrison to call for a new approach.
The Closing the Gap strategy has been in place since 2008, seeking to deliver better health, education and job outcomes for aboriginal people by getting all levels of government to work more closely.