A Productivity Commission review of the national Closing the Gap Agreement has found government’s have ‘failed to fully grasp the nature and scale’ of the change needed.

Despite some pockets of good practice, governments are still not delivering on the commitments laid out in the Closing the Gap Agreement.

Progress in rolling out new ‘priority reform’ agreements has been weak, reflecting business-as-usual approaches that have failed to deliver meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

That’s the conclusion from the Productivity Commission’s first three-yearly review into the agreement.

The Commission’s found there’s been no systemic approach to finding out what strategies should be introduced, and that a paradigm shift is needed before progress can be achieved.

It also says it was ‘all too easy’ to find government decisions that contradict commitments made under the Agreement that not only fail to reflect Indigenous priorities but exacerbated discrimination and disadvantage.

The Commissioners have received a clear message from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout the review, showing that governments are still failing to acknowledge and act on the reality that Indigenous people know what is best for their communities.

The review warns that unless governments start to address power imbalance in their systems – the Agreement risks becoming another broken promise.

It’s delivered four key recommendations for governments:

  • Share power
  • Support Indigenous Data Sovereignty
  • Fundamentally rethink mainstream government systems and culture
  • Implement stronger accountability

“Efforts to improve outcomes are far more likely to succeed when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lead their design and implementation. Nothing will change until this model of partnership, based on genuine power sharing, becomes the rule and not the exception,” said Commissioner Romlie Mokak.