Closing the Gap review
Review paper 1: Engagement approach
The engagement approach will guide how the Commission communicates with you on its review of the National Agreement.
Successful engagement, and in particular with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is critical to ensure the Review is effective. Effective engagement increases the visibility and understanding of issues and empowers people to have their say over decisions that affect their lives.
The Commission published its engagement approach on 6 July. The approach is underpinned by commitments under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, most notably in relation to shared decision-making, cultural safety and responsiveness.
The engagement approach is intended to be dynamic and may be refined over time as the Commission learns from its engagement on the Review.
The Productivity Commission reviews the National Agreement on Closing the Gap every 3 years.
During the review, we engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representatives.
The terms in the National Agreement guide our engagement approach. We set out the approach in this document.
- our objective and principles for how we engage for the review
- the ways we engage so that we are acting on our principles.
This document is about how we connect with the people we engage. It is not about the topics we engage on.
Objective of the engagement approach
To conduct a review with shared decision-making to determine progress under the National Agreement.
This includes supporting self-determination through engagement.
Right to self-determination
Supporting self-determination is a key part of shared decision-making.
For more information, see clause 32c(v) in the National Agreement.
The Australian Human Rights Commission says self-determination is an ‘on-going process of choice’ so that Indigenous peoples can meet their social, cultural and economic needs.
We commit to these principles when we engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
- Fair and inclusive for all people. We include those who may not often engage or be able to. Everyone who wants to contribute can do so and we hear them.
- Transparent and open in the ways we provide information and make decisions, and it is possible to assess this has happened.
- Ongoing, where engagement informs every stage of the review.
- Reciprocal with our information. At a minimum, we give feedback to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representatives. They know how we have understood their input and used it to inform decisions.
These elements are in the National Agreement under clauses 17, 32 and 59. They relate to:
- shared decision-making
- strong partnerships
- transforming government organisations.
Engagement practices are ways to make sure we achieve our principles.
The principles are long term. The engagement practices can change with:
- what we learn along the way
- the needs of people we engage with.
|Engagement principle||Engagement practice|
|Fair and inclusive||
|Transparent and open||
* Exceptions may be where the material includes content that could:
- defame someone
- discriminate against someone
- be from a third party who sent it without permission
- identify someone or be in confidence without a label.
We aim to resolve these issues with who gave us the material. If we can’t resolve the issue, we won’t publish the information.
This is in line with our processes for dealing with submissions.
This is the engagement approach for undertaking the three-yearly Review (the Review) on progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the Agreement). It outlines how the Productivity Commission aims to undertake engagement, in particular in a culturally safe way with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representatives.1
Note: Engagement in this context refers to how the Commission will facilitate connections, it does not cover what the Commission will engage on in respect of content.
The engagement approach sets out:
- the objective and principles to guide the Commission’s engagement for the Review
- what these principles mean in practice.
Objective and guiding principles for engagement
The objective of the Commission’s engagement approach is to facilitate shared decision-making in its Review to determine progress under the Agreement, including supporting self-determination through engagement.2
Principles for engagement
Consistent with the National Agreement,3 the Commission commits to engagement that is:
- fair and inclusive – a diversity of perspectives is supported and enabled, and all wanting to contribute and be heard have the opportunity to do so
- transparent and open – information is provided and decisions are made in a transparent and open manner, and it is possible to assess this has occurred
- ongoing – every stage of the Review is informed by engagement
- reciprocal – at a minimum, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representatives are provided feedback on how their input has been understood and informed decisions.4
Engagement practices to reflect these principles
A set of engagement practices are designed to assess the Commission’s implementation of the principles. While the principles are long term, the engagement practices may adapt and evolve in response to what has been learned along the way. This includes taking account of the needs of participants, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
|Engagement is fair and inclusive||
|Engagement is transparent and open||
|Engagement is ongoing||
|Engagement is reciprocal||
a Exceptions may occur where the material includes potentially defamatory content, potentially discriminatory content, content from a third party submitted without permission, personally identifying material or in confidence material not labelled. In these cases, the Commission would aim to resolve these issues with the party providing the material (as per our processes dealing with submissions) and only if unable to would the information not be published.
- This is consistent with the National Agreement and the Review terms of reference. Locate Footnote 1 above
- Under the Agreement, one of the key elements of shared decision-making is that ‘self-determination is supported, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lived experience is understood and respected’ (clause 32c(v)). The Agreement provides guidance on what self-determination entails, by identifying that ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control is an act of self-determination’ (clause 44). This is consistent with the Australian Human Rights Commission’ framing of self-determination as an ‘on-going process of choice’ to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to meet their social, cultural and economic needs’(https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/rights-and-freedoms/right-self-determination) and the Federal Attorney-General’s Department as ‘the entitlement of peoples to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully’ (https://www.ag.gov.au/rights-and-protections/human-rights-and-anti-discrimination/human-rights-scrutiny/public-sector-guidance-sheets/right-self-determination) Locate Footnote 2 above
- In particular, clauses 17, 32 and 59 in the National Agreement as they relate to shared decision-making, strong partnership elements and transforming government organisations. Locate Footnote 3 above
- This is consistent with clause 59(f) in the National Agreement which states that engagement should be done in a way where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what feedback has been provided and how governments have taken account of it in making decisions. Locate Footnote 4 above