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Closing the Gap Refresh Discussion Paper

1 June 2018

The Law Council provided a submission to the Council of Australian Government’s Closing the Gap Refresh Discussion Paper on 4 May 2018.

The Law Council’s submission emphasised the importance of ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are central to the design and leadership of the Close the Gap strategy, and that future directions must allow for self-determination and community-led change. With this principle in mind, the Law Council considered the Discussion Paper in relation to how the Closing the Gap agenda could be improved to better support the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the introduction of justice targets.

The Law Council has made repeated calls for the inclusion of justice targets and associated action by Australian governments to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in imprisonment, as well as the disproportionate levels of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (particularly family and domestic violence). It has again submitted that justice-specific targets should be included in the Closing the Gap agenda.

In addition to the need for targets addressing the rates of incarceration and levels of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Law Council noted in its submission that there were also no targets with respect to child protection and out-of-home care. The overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system is a matter of particular concern, with the Law Council’s submission supporting the introduction of targets with respect to the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children placed into out-of-home care.

The Law Council will continue to work with the Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the effectiveness of the Close the Gap initiative into the future.

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