Closing the Gap progress and how you can help
It has been over 4 years since the formal partnership agreement on Closing the Gap was signed by the Australian Government, the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, State and Territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association.
30 November 2023
As part of that agreement, NSW is required to deliver on 5 Priority Reforms to enhance outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
- Building formal partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors.
- Transforming government organisations to ensure they are culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can access locally relevant data to help their decision making.
- Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can access education and employment opportunities.
These Priority Reforms have required fundamental changes in how the NSW public sector, including the NSW Department of Education, engages with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The department has made some good progress:
Ongoing executive level meetings have been set up to ensure progress in key areas. The meetings also support the department's Partnership Agreement 2020-2030 with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (NSW AECG).
The department is developing crucial tools and systems that improve our practice. These include the culturally responsive Re-imagining Evaluation framework and forthcoming Cultural Safety Framework that will enhance cultural safety in early childhood education settings.
The department will capitalise on this good momentum, as there is still work to be done.
How can the Closing the Gap initiatives assist in creating economic and educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
The NSW Closing the Gap Education cluster focuses on socio-economic targets to create economic and educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Examples of initiatives that create economic and educational opportunities and meet our Closing the Gap Targets include:
The Aboriginal History and Culture Initiative: Co-designed with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, this initiative is being embedded into the curriculum of selected schools. For example, at Gorokan High School, this initiative is being delivered for Year 7 and Year 8 students.
Pirru Thangkuray Cultural Engagement and Goal Setting Program: Co-designed with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, this program aims to sustain educational outcomes by delivering Aboriginal perspectives and culturally appropriate content. Expansion plans are under way to reach more students and schools.
My Future, My Culture, My Way: The campaign is a valuable resource that guides Aboriginal students, their parents, and communities through the journey of attaining the Higher School Certificate. By partnering with programs like Pirru Thangkuray and Community Connectors, it showcases success stories and offers support.
Barranggirra Mentoring Program: This program provides end to end support for Aboriginal learners through culturally appropriate mentoring, to ensure successful training completion and improved post-training employment outcomes.
The Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Grant: This grant adopts various strategies to develop and support Aboriginal people by creating training and employment opportunities. It has rolled out numerous school-based traineeships and permanent roles.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce and Leadership Strategy: This strategy aims to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the department to 8%. It also aims to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and values into the Department’s identity, leadership, and culture. The strategy will be launched very soon.
How you can help to Close the Gap?
While collective action is important, you can also help Close the Gap as an individual by:
Completing your mandatory Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Education Training, which will give you a foundational understanding of the cultures and histories of these communities. Further reading is also available in the training, so you can continue to build your knowledge.
Consider participating in Connecting to Country. It is offered by the NSW AECG and will give you further insights into Aboriginal Culture. Speak to your manager to request the training.
Consider working with the NSW AECG to co-design and deliver programs that benefit Aboriginal communities. By working together, you can contribute to creating better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We're making progress – let's continue to work together to Close the Gap.