Abolish structural racism to close the gap
Structural racism in government agencies will need to be dealt with in order to close the gap with Indigenous Australians.
Addressing such racism is a key reform area outlined on Thursday alongside 16 revamped Closing the Gap targets that have been developed for the first time with the people it involves.
The new agreement has been inked by all levels of government and the Coalition of Peaks, a representative body of around 50 Indigenous groups.
First Nations Media Australia's representative on the body, Catherine Liddle, says the agreement acknowledges that Indigenous groups know the answers to their own unique challenges.
One recent change is laws in Western Australia that aim to prevent people from being jailed for unpaid fines, after an Indigenous woman died in prison after being locked up for that reason.
Ms Liddle says it speaks directly to institutionalised racism.
"Governments will need to work with First Nations people in understanding what structural and institutionalised racism looks like," she told AAP.
Ms Liddle says the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are unforgivable.
"These gaps have caused massive erosion of our health and wellbeing for generations, and will continue to erode our health and wellbeing for generations unless something genuinely happens in this space that involves us as experts in our own lived experiences."
Coalition of Peaks lead convenor Pat Turner said the new agreement was hard fought for, and that Indigenous people would continue to stay at the negotiating table to ensure progress.
"The real hard work starts tomorrow, as we begin the implementation," she told reporters in Canberra.
Among the 16 targets is closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2031.
Non-Indigenous men live 8.6 years longer than their Indigenous counterparts, while the gap is 7.8 years for women.
The targets also cover children's health and jail rates, and include broader goals to move towards zero domestic violence and suicide.
The targets haven't been paired with new funding but Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt insists more money will be allocated for areas that need it.
He says governments must focus on ensuring a solid start for Indigenous children.
"So that children are successful and will not end up in the pathways that take them into conflict with systems that see them incarcerated."
The previous targets have not been met and while Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the new agreement is a better approach, he's not prepared to give a guarantee of their success.
"I am tempered by that bitter experience of my predecessors, and my own."
The Productivity Commission will deliver a progress report every three years and there will be an Indigenous-led review of how changes are impacting communities.
© AAP 2020