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Closing the Gap plan can sit alongside a Voice to Parliament

While the nation is now transfixed by the battle to contain the new outbreak of COVID-19 cases an equally important but longer-term challenge faces the national cabinet on policy towards Indigenous Australians.

In the next few months, state and territory leaders and the federal government will have to finalise a new 10-year strategy for closing the gap of disadvantage between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the rest of the community.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt with Pat Turner of Indigenous representative body Coalition of Peaks at Parliament House last week. Ms Turner co-chairs the Joint Council on Closing the Gap.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt with Pat Turner of Indigenous representative body Coalition of Peaks at Parliament House last week. Ms Turner co-chairs the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The previous 10-year agreement, which ended in 2018, set eight targets concerning issues such as Indigenous literacy and infant mortality, but the federal government report cards published each year were a litany of failure. Australia achieved only two of the eight goals. The sense of disillusion was on display at the Black Lives Matter protests across the country a month ago.

After more than a year of consultation, Indigenous affairs ministers and Indigenous community groups, represented by a body known as the Coalition of Peaks, approved a new draft plan on Friday that will now be sent to heads of government. Only the roughest details have so far been released, suggesting there is still some arguing ahead.

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