Commonwealth's Closing the Gap Implementation Plan

Media release
05 Aug 2021
Prime Minister, Minister for Indigenous Australians

The Morrison Government has released the Commonwealth’s first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, and with it committed more than $1 billion in new measures to support to help achieve Closing the Gap outcomes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said with the release of the Plan, the Government was turning the commitments made under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap into practical action.

“This is a plan that’s been led together with Indigenous leaders, to back Indigenous communities,” the Prime Minister said.

“When we overhauled the Closing the Gap program we set four priority reforms to fundamentally change how governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people work together. This Implementation Plan details how governments will do our part to achieve those reforms.

“It highlights the real and practical actions to be taken across all areas of government and also commits funding to actions that will ensure we get there. We’ve listened together and are taking action together.

“We’re doing things differently with accountability and transparency, and in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

“This is a truly whole-of-government plan, developed by Ministers, departments and agencies across the Commonwealth with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners, in particular the Coalition of Peaks.

“This is a practical plan that builds from the ground up by making good on the harm caused to Stolen Generations survivors to supporting this and future generations of young people with more education opportunities.

“This plan is about real reconciliation, how we get there, and making sure all governments are held to account, state and federal.”

Measures announced with the release of the plan are focussed on new areas in the National Agreement that require early investment, like the Priority Reforms, justice and languages.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the measures included $378.6 million for a new redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors from the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory. This scheme is critical to continue the nation’s reconciliation journey and will support healing.

“The scheme, for living survivors who were removed as children from their families in then-Commonwealth territories, includes a one-off payment in recognition of the harm caused by forced removal and gives each survivor the opportunity, should they wish, to tell their story and receive an individual apology,” Minister Wyatt said.

There are also new measures in areas which evidence suggests will have the greatest impact over the long term, including early childhood, health, education and supporting families.

“We are providing an additional $254.4 million towards infrastructure to better support Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations do their critical work, and on their terms. ACCHOs have been a significant part of the Government’s response to COVID-19 and this funding will improve their facilities and maintain the high level of care they offer their communities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We are also investing $160 million in new funding to ensure the best start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, through initiatives such as the Healthy Mums and Healthy Bubs program, the Community Child Care Fund, the Connected Beginnings Program and the Early Years Education Program.”

Minister Wyatt said the Implementation Plan and associated investments showed the Commonwealth was serious about delivering on the National Agreement.

“This first Commonwealth Implementation Plan sets a foundation for our efforts in achieving the targets in the National Agreement over the coming decade,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We will report on our progress each year, and the plan will be updated at the same time in partnership and based on evidence and data. This will keep us accountable and ensure we are aligned with the priorities of the people it affects most.

“Progress and change are not a Commonwealth responsibility alone and all parties are responsible for delivering on the commitments in the National Agreement. States and territories are delivering their own implementation plans, and together with the Commonwealth’s Plan detail a full picture of the national effort being delivered under the partnership.

“All parties to the National Agreement are deeply committed to working together with a determination to forge a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”

More information:

The Commonwealth Implementation Plan details the range of programs and strategies in place across the Commonwealth that contribute to Closing the Gap, as well as new investment and initiatives. Read the full list of new investments below.

The measures announced with the release of the Implementation Plan build on announcements in the 2021-22 Budget that also contribute to Closing the Gap, in areas such as mental health, jobs and skills, and aged care.

Commencing in 2022, the Commonwealth will produce an annual report to outline progress being made to deliver the actions outlined in the Plan and all other governments will do the same.

The Productivity Commission is maintaining a dashboard of data on all the targets and indicators at a national and state and territory level. It will also publish a data compilation report in July every year, as well as conduct a review every three years.

The Commonwealth Implementation Plan will be updated as necessary alongside the Commonwealth’s annual report. When the Commonwealth provides its annual report, it will also set priorities for the coming year. Setting priorities will be done in partnership and be built on what the data and evidence says is working and what isn’t.

Read the full Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

New investments to support delivery of the Commonwealth Implementation Plan

Initiative Minister ($m)
Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme
Will support healing and wellbeing of around 3,600 Stolen Generations survivors removed from their families in Commonwealth territories to positively impact their health and the intergenerational healing of their families and communities.
It will also contribute to intergenerational healing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through recognising and acknowledging the wrongs of the past.
Minister for Indigenous Australians 378.6
Developing the Cultural Competence and Trauma Responsiveness of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous Child and Family Sector Workforce
Will deliver workshops to assess and build organisational and workforce cultural competency and capability.
Minister for Families and Social Services 7.7
Closing the Gap in Life Expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
Will deliver new or renovated health clinics and associated housing for health professionals. Funding will support the need for increased remote consultations using digital equipment and upgrading deteriorating or non-existent infrastructure.
Minister for Health and Aged Care 254.4
Strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Treatment Services
Will provide investment to increase access to outcomes-focused alcohol and other drug treatment services, repairs of AOD infrastructure as well as new services, and strengthening the capacity of the AOD workforce.
Minister for Indigenous Australians 66
Assessing Needs and Increasing the Involvement of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) in the Child and Family Sector
Will assess the barriers identified by ACCOs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders to have greater involvement in family support services.
Minister for Families and Social Services
Minister for Women’s Safety
Early Childhood Package
Will deliver a set of interlocking initiatives to lift the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in quality and culturally appropriate early childhood education and care services.
Minister for Education and Youth 122.6
Healthy Mums Healthy Bubs
Will support the delivery of primary health care, including maternal and antenatal care services.
Minister for Health and Aged Care 45
On Country Boarding Schools
Will provide investment for more options for local secondary education in remote communities. This will include the support to build three facilities.
Minister for Education and Youth
Minister for Indigenous Australians
Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education
Outcomes and Evidence Fund (Try Test Learn)
Will incentivise evidence-based service delivery and develop evidence of what works to facilitate transformational change and deliver tangible, improved outcomes to support child and family safety.
Minister for Families and Social Services 38.6
City-County School Partnerships to Improve Remote School Outcomes
Will establish a competitive fund to incentivise and support large, high performing independent schools to partner with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools to improve the quality of teaching and student outcomes.
Minister for Education and Youth Minister for Indigenous Australians 26
Scaling Up Success
Expansion of evidence-based approaches that are successfully addressing key drivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student education outcomes. This measure will focus on expanding access to programs that have already proven to be effective in improving primary school reading outcomes.
Minister for Education and Youth
Minister for Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Languages and Creating Regional Jobs
Will provide increased investment in the Commonwealth’s existing Indigenous Languages and Arts program and include funding for additional language centres to protect the most at risk Indigenous languages.
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts 22.8
Closing the Gap Coordination and Delivery
Will ensure that the Coalition of Peaks has the capacity to coordinate and meet its commitments under the National Agreement and can deliver priority reform tasks under the Implementation Plan.
Minister for Indigenous Australians 10
Funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) for Expensive and Complex Cases and to Support Criminal Justice Reform Through Coronial Inquiries
Provide legal assistance to families of deceased individuals in coronial inquiries, and to support clients involved in complex and/or expensive cases. Appropriate legal representation in these matters supports the identification and resolution of systemic issues which drive deaths in custody and over-incarceration.
Attorney-General 9.3
Funding for Cultural Safe and Appropriate Family Dispute Resolution for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
Will provide funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families resolve post-separation parenting and property disputes through culturally safe and tailored models.
Attorney-General 8.3 
Justice Policy Partnership
Will support establishment of a joined up policy partnership on justice to agree focus areas for action to drive outcomes on reducing Indigenous incarceration (adult and youth).
Minister for Indigenous Australians and Attorney-General 7.6
Preventing Harm in Australia’s Prisons and Other Places of Detention measure (OPCAT)
Will provide support for jurisdictional implementation of the OPCAT to deliver better outcomes for detainees and reduce recidivism and greater public confidence in the justice system.
Attorney-General Subject to negotiations with states and territories
Improving Multi-Disciplinary Responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families with Multiple and Complex Needs
Will strengthen service models to effectively respond to multiple and interrelated issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families which may lead to child abuse and neglect.
Minister for Families and Social Services
Minister for Women’s Safety
Subject to negotiations with states and territories