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Photograph left to right: Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, David Harris, Co-Chair NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations, John Leha, Premier Chris Minns and LGNSW President, Cr Darriea Turley AM. 

Ground-breaking partnership aims to help close the gap

12 February 2024

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) today signed a partnership with the NSW Government and the Coalition of Peak Aboriginal Organisations (CAPO) to support Priority Reform 1 of the government’s Closing the Gap strategy.

President of LGNSW Cr Darriea Turley AM said today’s agreement acknowledges the importance that the local government sector plays in the lives of Aboriginal communities throughout NSW.

“This partnership gives LGNSW a seat at the table to provide leadership and policy advice to councils on Closing the Gap initiatives,” Cr Turley said.

“Councils in some communities already play an important role in Closing the Gap in health care, employment, and housing, but everyone agrees there’s more to be done.

“All spheres of government have a role to play in making sure Aboriginal community members have access to adequate services, education, and employment opportunities. 

“Improving the rates of life expectancy and lowering levels of infant mortality continue to be urgent issues faced in Aboriginal communities.

“It’s not acceptable that there are such disparities in these essential areas between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the Australian community,” Cr Turley said.

The Productivity Commission’s first review of the progress on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was released on 7 February. 

It raised the issue that the power imbalances between government and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are negatively impacting on the shared decision making needed to make Closing the Gap successful.

“In light of the recent review from the Productivity Commission, it is very timely that LGNSW has engaged in this partnership agreement with the NSW Government and CAPO,” Cr Turley said.

“To me it’s a commonsense approach that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are genuinely engaged in an equal partnership to make the decisions that impact their lives.”

LGNSW has signed up to six key actions, including:

  • Contributing to activities through policy advice regarding the potential input of local councils in relevant projects.
  • Providing leadership and policy advice to councils in NSW.
  • Promoting information sharing and opportunities for councils in NSW to engage in Closing the Gap programs and initiatives.
  • Promoting mutually beneficial partnerships with councils in NSW that support Closing the Gap outcomes.
  • Keeping Aboriginal Affairs NSW informed of views, significant issues, constraints, capabilities and initiatives that may affect or impact on councils' ability to engage in closing the gap initiatives, and;
  • Acting as a conduit for information sharing between the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and all member councils in NSW on national and NSW Closing the Gap information.

Cr Turley said the partnership was a step in the right direction ensuring transparency and accountability in the way the State Government, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, local councils and Aboriginal communities will work collaboratively towards Closing the Gap.