Western Australian Local Governments with Aboriginal communities are supportive of efforts to improve the living conditions and governance in these communities.

There are 280 discrete Aboriginal communities in Western Australia accommodating approximately 17,000 Indigenous people spanning 26 Local Governments.

The Role of Local Government

Local Government plays an essential role in the design and investment of services in Western Australia. Local Governments have a statutory obligation to provide services to the residents within the community, not only by way of access to town-based services and facilities, but also directly to town based and discrete Aboriginal communities.

In the five decades since the 1967 Referendum, successive Commonwealth Governments have developed and funded policies and programs designed to improve the socio-economic status of Aboriginal Australians, and overcome a long history of poverty and marginalisation. Despite these efforts, there has been only modest improvement in some areas, and many Aboriginal Australians continue to experience high levels of disadvantage in living standards, life expectancy, education, health and employment.

Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap aims to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Since 2008, Australian governments have worked together to deliver better health, education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to eliminate the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

A formal Partnership Agreement between Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations came into effect in March 2019.

The partnership arrangements include a Joint Council on Closing the Gap comprising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, alongside Ministerial representation. The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks Organisations appoint their twelve representatives to the Joint Council on Closing the Gap.

COAG also released a draft Closing the Gap framework in December 2018, including draft targets, accountabilities and reporting requirements as a basis for further discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples and communities. The refreshed Closing Gap framework and targets will be finalised through the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, ahead of endorsement by COAG.

The Closing the Gap strategy includes seven targets including:
  • families, children and youth
  • health
  • education
  • economic development
  • housing
  • justice, including youth justice, and
  • land and water.