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Closing the Gap Review

Terms of reference

I, Josh Frydenberg, pursuant to Parts 2 and 4 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, hereby request that the Productivity Commission undertake a review of progress on Closing the Gap.

Background

The goal of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the Agreement) is to overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians. The Agreement was developed in partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and all Australian governments and commits governments to working in full and genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in making policies to close the gap.

The Agreement is built around four Priority Reform outcomes and 17 socioeconomic targets (and agreement to develop two additional targets, on inland waters and community infrastructure). The socioeconomic outcomes focus on measuring the life experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Priority Reform outcomes are:

  • Strengthening and establishing formal partnerships and shared decision-making.
  • Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector.
  • Transforming government organisations so they work better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Improving and sharing access to data and information to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make informed decisions.

Parties to the Agreement agreed that the Productivity Commission will undertake a comprehensive review of progress every three years. The review is to inform the ongoing implementation of the Agreement by highlighting areas of improvement and emphasising where additional effort is required to close the gap. Parties have committed to undertaking actions if the review indicates that achievement of any of the targets that are set out in the Agreement is not on track.

This review will complement the Independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led review of progress.

Scope of the research study

In undertaking the review, the Productivity Commission should:

  1. analyse progress on Closing the Gap against the four Priority Reform outcome areas in the Agreement;
  2. analyse progress against all of the socioeconomic outcome areas in the Agreement; and
  3. examine the factors affecting progress.

The Productivity Commission should provide recommendations, where relevant, to the Joint Council on Closing the Gap on potential changes to the Agreement and its targets, indicators and trajectories, and on data improvements.

In undertaking the review, the Productivity Commission should have regard to all aspects of the Agreement, consider all parties’ implementation and annual reports, and draw on evaluations and other relevant evidence.

Process

The Productivity Commission is to consult broadly, particularly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations, and should invite submissions and provide other options for people to engage with the review. The Productivity Commission should publicly release a draft report and provide its final report to the Joint Council on Closing the Gap by the end of 2023. The final report will also be published.

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Treasurer

[Received 7 April 2022]