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Through a co-design approach, jurisdictional action plans will be developed in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, setting out the progress that needs to be made nationally and in each jurisdiction for the targets to be met. Action plans will clearly specify what actions each level of government is accountable for, inform jurisdictional trajectories for each target and establish how all levels of government will work together and with communities, organisations and other stakeholders to achieve the targets. Starting points, past trends and local circumstances differ, so jurisdictions’ trajectories will vary and may have different end-points.

One of the lessons governments have learned over the last ten years is that effective programs and services need to be designed, developed and implemented in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We must place collaboration, transparency, and accountability at the centre of the way we do business with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. Working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is fundamental to Closing the Gap.

All governments are committed to broadening and deepening their partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities over the lifetime of the refreshed agenda. This includes strengthening mechanisms to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an integral role in decision making and accountability processes at the national, regional and local levels, building on existing arrangements and directions within different jurisdictions.

To guide the development of Commonwealth, state and territory action plans, COAG has endorsed a set of Implementation Principles informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities:

  • Shared Decision-Making – Implementation of the Closing the Gap framework, and the policy actions that fall out of it, must be undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Governments and communities should build their capability to work in collaboration and form strong, genuine partnerships in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be an integral part of the decisions that affect their communities.
  • Place-based Responses and Regional Decision Making – Programs and investments should be culturally responsive and tailored to place. Each community and region has its own unique history and circumstances. Community members, Elders and regional governance structures are critical partners and an essential source of knowledge and authority on the needs, opportunities, priorities and aspirations of their communities.
  • Evidence, Evaluation and Accountability – All policies and programs should be developed on evidence-based principles, be rigorously evaluated, and have clear accountabilities based on acknowledged roles and responsibilities. Governments and communities should have a shared understanding of evidence, evaluation and accountability.
  • Targeted investment – Government investments should contribute to achieving the Closing the Gap targets through strategic prioritisation of efforts based on rigorous evaluation and input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially as it relates to policy formation, outcomes and service commissioning.
  • Integrated Systems – There should be collaboration between and within Governments, communities and other stakeholders in a given place to effectively coordinate efforts, supported by improvements in transparency and accountability.


The Commonwealth, states and territories share accountability for the refreshed Closing the Gap agenda and are jointly accountable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. COAG commits to working together to improve outcomes in every priority area of the Closing the Gap Refresh.

The refreshed Closing the Gap agenda will commit to targets that all governments will be accountable to the community for achieving. This approach reflects the roles and responsibilities as set out by the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA), and specified in respective National Agreements, National Partnerships and other relevant bilateral agreements.

While overall accountability for the framework is shared, different levels of government will have lead responsibility for specific targets. The lead jurisdiction is the level of government responsible for monitoring reports against progress and initiating further action if that target is not on track, including through relevant COAG bodies.

The refreshed framework recognises that one level of government may have a greater role in policy and program delivery in relation to a particular target while another level of government may play a greater role in funding, legislative or regulatory functions. Meeting specific targets will require the collaborative efforts of the Commonwealth, states and territories, regardless of which level of government has lead responsibility. Commonwealth, state and territory actions for each target will be set out in jurisdictional action plans, and may vary between jurisdictions. COAG acknowledges that all priority areas have interdependent social, economic and health determinants that impact the achievement of outcomes and targets.

Independent review

The Productivity Commission’s Indigenous Commissioner will conduct an independent review of progress nationally and in each jurisdiction every three years. All governments will provide input into the Productivity Commission’s review, taking into account differences between urban, regional and remote areas.

The Closing the Gap targets may be subject to refinement, where appropriate, through the review of the NIRA and periodic Productivity Commission reviews.