New and improved targets are needed to preserve indigenous languages and prevent suicides.
A landmark report from the Coalition of Peaks, which represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, has canvassed views on revamping the Closing the Gap agreement.
It found new targets were needed to preserve language and culture, while goals around mental health and suicide prevention should be expanded.
Institutional and systemic racism across mainstream service providers was highlighted throughout the report.
Experiences included negative attitudes displayed by staff, racist behaviour and profiling.
“In my experience, Aboriginal people I know will not use mainstream because of racism, discrimination, lack of cultural safety,” a WA respondent said.
The study sought views from 4000 indigenous people through online surveys and face-to-face meetings in regional towns, remote communities and cities.
It focused on three priority reforms around how governments interact with indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.
They were building structures to involve indigenous people in Closing the Gap reforms, transforming mainstream agencies to better deliver services and boosting support for community-controlled organisations.
Respondents overwhelmingly supported those areas and proposed a fourth to increase the use of data to help indigenous and government decision making.
Coalition of Peaks lead convenor Pat Turner said the report showed new ways of working between indigenous people and governments to close the gap.
“Engagement processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like this one rarely take place in Australia,” she said.
“I am proud to say the engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks in partnership with Australian governments, implemented this ground-breaking and historic approach.”
The report will inform a new national Closing the Gap agreement between the Coalition of Peaks and governments expected to be finalised before the end of July.