About the refresh

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A decade after Australian governments committed to the Closing the Gap framework, three of the seven national targets are on track and four will expire later this year.

Australian governments acknowledge they need to work differently with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

This includes genuine partnership with Indigenous leaders, organisations and communities, to identify the priorities that will inform better programs and services, to close the gap.

A Special Gathering of prominent Indigenous Australians met in Canberra for two days in February this year to discuss priorities for the next decade of Closing the Gap. Participants from all states and territories met to share their experiences and help influence the next steps in Closing the Gap.

From this, ten representatives presented a statement to Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting who agreed all governments will undertake community consultations on the refresh, prior to agreeing on the new Closing the Gap framework, targets and performance indicators by 31 October 2018.

Around 1,000 people represented their communities, businesses and organisations at consultations around the country. We also asked people to share their views on the best way to refresh Closing the Gap on our website.

Feedback from consultations and submissions will now be used to inform the new Closing the Gap targets.



We also need to honour and celebrate the richness and diversity of the world’s oldest living culture, and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to prosper.

Prosperity is about moving beyond wellbeing to flourishing and thriving. It refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples having the economic empowerment to be the decision-makers over issues that impact their lives, and to seize opportunities for themselves, their families and communities.

Prosperity can be structured around four key parts – Individual, Community, Economic and Environment. These are underpinned by a recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is integral for thriving communities.

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View the extended text description of the framework for prosperity image.

Working together

Another step in this process is to consider how governments can improve program implementation. Six implementation principles have been developed to guide the new Closing the Gap agenda.

The principles are:

  • Funding prioritised to meet targets
  • Evidence-based programs and policies
  • Genuine collaboration between governments and communities
  • Programs and services tailored for communities
  • Shared decision-making
  • Clear roles, responsibilities and accountability

History and targets

In December 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) pledged to close key gaps in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Specific targets were developed to reduce inequalities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy, mortality, education and employment. A seventh target to close the gap in school attendance was added in 2014.

The Closing the Gap: Prime Minister’s 2018 Report notes three targets are on track – the first time this has been the case since 2011.

The table illustrates the progress of the current targets:

Progress of the current targets
Target Progress Status
Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018 Over the long term (1998 to 2016) the Indigenous child mortality rate has declined by 35 per cent, and there has been a narrowing of the gap (by 32 per cent). However, progress has slowed since the 2008 target baseline.  On track
95 per cent of all Indigenous four year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025

The target to have 95 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education is on track, with 91 per cent enrolment in 2016.

Of the Indigenous children enrolled in early childhood education in 2016, 93 per cent attended at least one hour in the reference week.

On track
Close the gap between Indigenous and non‑Indigenous school attendance by 2018

Attendance rates for Indigenous students have been stable between 2014 (83.5 per cent) and 2017 (83.2 per cent), and the target is not on track to be met.

In 2017, the overall attendance rate for Indigenous students nationally was 83.2 per cent, compared with 93.0 per cent for non-Indigenous students.

Not on track
Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading and numeracy by 2018

While the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students has narrowed since 2008 across all areas, the target is not on track.

The proportion of Indigenous students achieving national minimum standards in NAPLAN is on track in only one (Year 9 numeracy) of the eight areas (reading and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9).

Not on track
Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 or equivalent attainment by 2020

Nationally, the proportion of Indigenous 20-24 year-olds who had achieved Year 12 or equivalent has increased from 47.4 per cent in 2006 to 65.3 per cent in 2016.

The gap has narrowed by 12.6 percentage points over the past decade (from 36.4 percentage points in 2006 to 23.8 percentage points in 2016).

On track

Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non‑Indigenous Australians by 2018

The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track, with Indigenous employment rates falling slightly over the past decade.

However, progress is being masked by a change in remote employment programs during this period. If this effect is removed, the employment rate has improved by 4.2 percentage points over the past 10 years.

In 2016, the Indigenous employment rate was 46.6 per cent, compared with 71.8 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians.

Not on track
Close the gap in life expectancy by 2031

Between the periods 2005-2007 and 2010-2012 there was a small reduction in the gap of 0.8 years for males and 0.1 years for females.

Between 1998 and 2016, the overall Indigenous mortality rate declined significantly, by 14 per cent. Non-Indigenous death rates also declined over this period, and the gap has narrowed by around 9 per cent (not statistically significant). Despite these long-term improvements, there has been no significant change in the Indigenous mortality rate between 2006 (baseline) and 2016 and the current Indigenous mortality rate is not on track to meet the target.

Not on track
Many areas are not measured: economic, social, and environment  

Read the discussion paper for more information on the Closing the Gap Refresh.

If you have any questions, please email ClosingtheGapRefresh@pmc.gov.au