Closing the Gap National Partnership Agreements
The National Partnership Agreements (NPAs) are agreements between the Commonwealth of Australia and the states and territories. They ensure that all levels of government are committed to the same framework of outcomes, measure of progress, and policy directions. NPAs build on current initiatives, address shortfalls, and may provide additional funding.
The six agreements included in the Closing the Gap policy are detailed below. These agreements are applicable from 2009.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has committed $564.6 million over six years to improve Indigenous early childhood development.
Through this agreement, the parties are committed to the following objectives:
- improving developmental outcomes for Indigenous children and achieving key targets
- achieving sustained improvement in pregnancy and birth outcomes for Indigenous women and infants
- improving Indigenous families' use of the early childhood development services they need to optimise the development of their children
- contributing to COAG's social inclusion, early childhood development, education, health, housing, and safety agendas, by identifying models and reforms that will improve outcomes for Indigenous children.
This agreement seeks to contribute to the following overarching outcomes:
- Indigenous children are born and remain healthy
- Indigenous children have the same health outcomes as non-Indigenous children
- Indigenous children acquire the basic skills for life and learning
- Indigenous families have ready access to suitable and culturally adequate early childhood and family support.
Three key elements are at the core of the desired outputs:
- integration of early childhood services through children and family centres
- increased access to antenatal care, and pre-pregnancy and teenage sexual and reproductive health
- increased access to and use of maternal and child health services by Indigenous families.
To achieve the objectives of this agreement, each party has specific responsibilities:
- the Commonwealth will be responsible for providing financial contributions to the states and the Northern Territory (participating in consultation when appropriate), and participating in the planning of bilaterally agreed implementation plans, in consultation with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.
- The states and territories will be responsible for providing financial contributions and planning and implementing bilaterally agreed implementation plans, in consultation with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.
The states, the territories and the Commonwealth will:
- share the responsibilities for ensuring the effective implementation of this agreement
- evaluate the outcomes of the agreement, at both national and local levels
- review annually the implementation process, and re-align it with COAG reform when appropriate
- identify and share best practice
- provide sufficient data to allow national comparisons for evaluations.
The performance indicators are:
- increased proportion of Indigenous children attending the Children and Family Centres who have had all age‐appropriate health checks and vaccinations
- increased proportion of Indigenous three and four year olds participating in quality early childhood education and development and child care services
- increased proportion of Indigenous children attending the Children and Family Centres who go on to attend school regularly
- increased proportion of Indigenous children and families accessing a range of services offered at or through Children and Family Centres, including childcare, early learning, child and maternal health, and parent and family support services
- increased proportion of pregnant Indigenous women with an antenatal contact in the first trimester of pregnancy
- increased proportion of Indigenous teenagers accessing sexual and reproductive health programs and services
- reduced proportion of Indigenous babies born with low birth weight each
- reduced mortality rate of Indigenous infants
- reduced proportion of Indigenous women who use substances (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs) during pregnancy
- reduced proportion of hospital admissions of Indigenous children aged 0‐4 years.
A total of $291.2 million over six years has been allocated to support improvements across 26 remote locations across the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. Coordination and delivery of services in these remote locations will be improved at all levels of government. There will be a focus on reforms to service delivery in early childhood, schooling, housing and health. Importantly, engagement with local communities will include attention to governance and leadership within Indigenous organisations. Through this agreement, COAG seeks to contribute to the following objectives:
- improve the access of Indigenous families to a full range of suitable and culturally adequate services
- raise the standard and range of services accessible to Indigenous families to the level provided to the other Australian families
- improve the level of governance and leadership within Indigenous communities and organisations
- provide better and simpler access to government services in remote Indigenous communities
- increase social and economic participation to promote personal engagement, responsibility and, more broadly, positive social norms.
In addressing these objectives the Commonwealth will be responsible for:
- working with the states and the Northern Territory to establish a new integrated service planning and delivery mechanism
- providing financial contribution to the states and the Northern Territory, as stated in the implementation plans
- dedication of staff to the new integrated service delivery mechanisms
- establishing mechanisms for problem-solving with concordance of the states and the Northern Territory and ensure the development and implementation of service delivery
- baseline mapping, building and maintaining the evidence base, monitoring, and evaluation in identified locations
- providing advice to governments on local and systemic issues associated with cultural adequacy and cross-cultural training materials
- introducing a national framework for the correct use of Indigenous interpreters and translators (including related protocols).
The states and the Northern Territory will be responsible for:
- working with the Commonwealth to establish a new integrated service planning and delivery mechanism
- providing financial contributions as stated in the agreement
- dedicating staff to operate new integrated service delivery mechanisms
- delivering all the land tenure components
- assisting in the creation of coordination mechanisms.
The Commonwealth and the states and the Northern Territory will share the responsibility for:
- completing reporting against performance indicators and timelines, as well as fund allocation
- creating an interface for interactions between communities and all government agencies, including one or more senior business manager to coordinate the implementation of the agreement
- establishing whole-of-government, regionally-based operation centres to ensure the timelines and accountability of implementation plans
- working with selected communities to feed into local implementation plan processes
- establishing programs to develop community leadership skills
- providing translation services and cultural awareness training in the identified locations
- providing technical support and funding to establish and maintain appropriate structures and capacity for corporate governance, when appropriate
- participation in consultation, when appropriate
- planning and implementing bilateral plans
- identifying and sharing good practice across all parties
- providing sufficient data to enable effective planning and a thorough evaluation of the outcomes of this agreement, at both national and local level.
Performance indicators will vary between jurisdictions and will be detailed inspecific implementation plans.
COAG has committed $228.8 million over five years to improve opportunities for Indigenous people to engage in private and public sector jobs. This agreement comprises four elements to significantly contribute to halving the employment gap between Indigenous and other Australians:
- creating real, sustainable employment areas of government service delivery that have previously relied on subsidisation through Community development employment projects (CDEP)
- strengthening current government procurement policies to maximise Indigenous employment
- incorporating Indigenous workforce strategies into all new major COAG reforms contributing to the Closing the Gap targets
- reviewing all public sector Indigenous employment and career development strategies to increase employment to reflect population proportions by 2015.
In terms of roles and responsibilities, both the Commonwealth and the states and territories will be responsible for the creation of service delivery jobs by 1 July 2009. They will be jointly responsible for:
- the development of sustainable strategies with private sector, local government and Indigenous communities to improve Indigenous employment outcomes
- creating properly paid jobs for service delivery that previously relied on CDEP scheme
- creating specific, transition strategies for communities especially affected by the CDEP reforms
- informing current partner employers on employment reforms
- incorporating Indigenous workforce principles in the government services
- developing Indigenous workforce strategies.
To achieve the performance benchmark of halving the employment gap, this National Partnership Agreement is expected to assist up to 13,000 Indigenous people into employment over a five-year period. Specific performance indicators and administrative data are used for each of the four elements. The individual states and territories will contribute in varied proportions.
COAG has committed $1.94 billion over ten years for housing reform and infrastructure arrangements in remote Indigenous communities. This is expected to:
- address severe overcrowding by increasing the availability of new houses
- improve the condition of current houses
- ensure rental houses in remote Indigenous communities are well maintained and managed.
These three objectives should contribute to the improvement of amenity and reduction of overcrowding, particularly in remote and discrete communities.
To achieve these objectives, the agreement stipulates:
- supply of safe and adequate housing
- robust and standardised tenancy management of all remote Indigenous housing to be consistent with public housing standards
- a program of ongoing maintenance and repairs to increase life cycles of Indigenous remote public housing from 7 years to 30 years
- construction and ongoing maintenance of new houses in remote Indigenous communities
- increased employment opportunities for local residents in remote Indigenous communities
- accommodation, such as hostels and subsidised rental housing, to allow Indigenous people from remote areas to move to regional centres to access education, training and support services
- progressive land tenure on remote community-titled land to best secure government and commercial investment, economic development and home ownership in economically sustainable communities
- upgraded housing and related infrastructure in town camps where appropriate
- improved data collection for three-yearly community housing and infrastructure need surveys.
The Commonwealth is responsible for:
- funding of additional housing and related infrastructure in remote Australia to ensure unmet needs are met within the ten years on the agreement
- funding for the provision of some municipal and essential services for community audits for specific need assessments of required housing and related infrastructure
- agreeing on the modalities of the municipal and essential services for community audits for specific need assessments of required housing and related infrastructure.
The states and the Northern Territory are responsible for:
- provision of housing via their housing authorities as the major deliverers of housing for Indigenous people in remote areas
- ensuring the consistency of housing and related deliveries with the public housing standards of tenancy management
- developing and implementing land tenure arrangements to facilitate effective asset management, essential services and economic development opportunities.
Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory are sharing the responsibility for:
- reporting back to COAG by December 2009 on a proposal for clearer roles, responsibilities and funding with respect to the various municipal services in remote areas, and a timeframe for future implementation to be in place for 1 July 2012
- refining the performance indicators and providing data to better reach the desired outcomes of the agreement
- maintaining a national minimum data set to allow jurisdictional comparisons
- Performance benchmarks and indicators include reduction of:
- the average occupancy per remote dwellings, by 2018
- the incidence of homelessness by 50% in 2018
- overcrowded dwellings by 4,200 in 2018
- 4,200 new housing construction completed by 2018
- 4,876 repairs and replacements completed by 2014
- tenancy management, rent collection and tenancy support services in place for all existing and repaired and replaced housing by 2015
- comprehensive rolling program of repairs and maintenance by 2010
- all communities connected to operating water, sewerage, power and rubbish disposal by 2018
- a number of hostel-style and family-style accommodation at affordable prices in regional centres and 100% available for Indigenous people from remote communities
- 20% of new housing construction employment roles occupied by local Indigenous people.
COAG has committed $1.57 billion over four years to contribute to 'closing the gap' in health outcomes. This NPA expired on 30 June 2013. It aimed to achieve the following five key objectives:
- preventive health: reduction of the factors that contribute to chronic disease, including tobacco, and an integrated alcohol, drugs and mental health services
- primary health care: access expansion and coordination of comprehensive culturally appropriate health care, services and allied services
- hospital and related care: delivery of better outcomes through quality improvement, cultural appropriateness of hospitals and related care
- patient experience; ensuring the cultural appropriateness of the health care workforce by engagement in genuine partnerships with Indigenous communities in order to allow the most vulnerable people to re-engage with hospital and related services
- sustainability: augmentation of Indigenous people in the health care workforce, reform and improvement of health care supply, creation of sustainable programs and funding schemes and performance benchmarks and indicators to best respond to the changing need of Indigenous people's service need.
The objectives of the agreement are expected to be achieved by tackling tobacco use, ensuring healthy transition to adulthood, making Indigenous health everyone's business, making a primary health care service more effective, and fixing the gaps in continuity of care and improving the patient journey. The implementation of these objectives is predominantly the responsibility of the states and territories apart from some discrete intervention that will be under the umbrella of COAG. Performance indicators are various and specific to each objective, these are for:
- preventive health:
- the incidence and prevalence of a wide range of health issues (including preventable diseases and injury, babies born with low birth weight, and teenage birth rate)
- health service attendance (including immunisation rates, cancer screenings, number of women attending antenatal visits in the first trimester of pregnancy)
- additional indicators (tobacco smoking during pregnancy, social and emotional wellbeing, and health promotion)
- primary health care:
- access to general practitioners (GPs), dental and other primary health care professionals
- prevalence of diabetes and chronic disease management
- life expectancy
- infant mortality
- preventable hospitalisations
- time between GP/specialist visits
- hospital and related care:
- waiting times
- selected adverse events in acute and sub-acute care settings
- unplanned readmissions within 28 days of surgical admissions
- survival rates of people with cancer
- rates of services provided by private/public hospitals
- rate of discharge from hospital against medical advice
- patient experiences:
- access to services
- level of patient satisfaction
- barriers to accessing care
- Indigenous people in the healthcare workforce
- expenditure on health services
- Indigenous people in tertiary education for health-related disciplines
- recruitment and retention.
COAG has committed $6.967 million over four years to expand and maintain public access to the internet. This NPA seeks to:
- increase social inclusion and wellbeing of remote Indigenous communities
- improve access to basic information and communication services required for Indigenous participation in contemporary Australian economic, political and social life
- reduce barriers to basic information and communication services
- increase the understanding of the benefits of the effective use of the internet and associated hardware and software in remote Indigenous communities.
The desired outcome for internet access is to be a lever to increase educational, health, economic and social capital, doing so through both enhanced computer literacy and greater public information use. It also seeks to facilitate communication with government agencies, businesses, communities and families. Installation of internet facilities will be coupled with the appropriate filtering facilities for illegal and offensive materials. Importantly, maintenance of the internet facilities will be provided, as well as training sessions tailored to the individual community needs.
In delivering public internet access, priority will be given to remote communities of 100 people or more that have no public internet access.
To achieve these objectives each party has specific roles. The Commonwealth will:
- provide financial contribution to the states and the Northern Territory
- hold intergovernmental consultations regarding the implementation
- assess the eligibility and priority of the remote communities.
The states and the Northern Territory will:
- identify and nominate eligible communities
- administer the funding and organise service delivery and implementation
- deliver the full value of the Commonwealth financial contribution
- monitor and assess the performance in delivering the facilities and services.
The Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory will:
- share the responsibility of consultation with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders
- plan and agree on bilateral implementation plans
- agree on nomination and priority for service delivery to remote Indigenous communities
- conduct evaluations and reviews of the service delivery of the agreement.
The performance indicators are threefold:
- reduction in the number of remote Indigenous communities that have limited or no public internet access
- increased number of people in remote Indigenous communities that have received training in information technology and internet use
- increase in the transactions and communication between remote Indigenous communities and government agencies, businesses, communities and families.
The Australian Government has committed $807.4 million over the three years areas to fund a variety of programs, including:
- remote policing and substance use
- community law and justice
- community safety
- supporting families
- enhancing education
- language, literacy and numeracy
- improving child and family health
- welfare reform and employment
- governance and leadership.
This NPA was agreed between the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory Government in July 2009. It will continue the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), which originated with the Australian Government in June 2007, but aims to ensure the benefits are sustainable and driven by community aspirations. The agreement maintains and strengthens core NTER measures while placing a greater emphasis on community engagement and partnerships, and building capability and leadership within Indigenous communities.
Through this agreement, the parties are committed to the following objectives:
- ensure the protection of women and children
- reduce violence and improve family and community safety, including restrictions of alcohol and pornography, enhancing compliance and community education
- improve the quality of education, increase school participation and employment outcomes
- improve health and wellbeing, particularly that of children
- promote positive behaviours among Indigenous youth
- promote personal responsibility.
This agreement seeks to contribute to the following overarching outcomes:
- improved safety, health and wellbeing of Indigenous children
- improved school engagement and performance
- sustainable communities to support children and youth including through education and employment pathways.
The objectives and outcomes of this agreement will be achieved by:
- income management and welfare reform:
- maintenance and extension of income management consistent with the Racial Discrimination Act, after consultation, to eligible recipients in communities
- assessing, licensing and monitoring community stores and ensuring food security in communities without a store
- additional language, literacy and numeracy training to enhance sustainable employment by improving skills
- law and order:
- provision for 60 Northern Territory Police to replace Australian Federal Police
- construction of five new police stations and continued operational funding of temporary police stations
- development of alcohol management plans and targeting alcohol-related health and social issues, alcohol-related offending and anti-social behaviour, and enhancing compliance and community education
- continued provision of legal assistance to Indigenous Australians
- continued support for the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service
- continued support for the Welfare Rights Outreach Project
- establishment and/or continued operation of 81 night patrol services.
- family support:
- support for 22 safe houses in Darwin, Alice Springs and 15 remote communities
- continuation of the Mobile Child Protection Team
- continuation of the Remote Aboriginal Family and Community Worker program in at least 13 communities
- youth projects, services, organisations and infrastructure to promote positive behaviours among young people
- early childhood:
- services to improve families’ skills and educate young people about pregnancy, birth and parenting, including playgroups
- funding for crèches
- improving child and family health:continuation of the primary health care services initiatives
- providing ear and hearing services and specialist care
- continuing follow up dental care for children
- strengthening the Mobile Outreach Service to address child abuse related trauma
- enhancing education:
- the construction of at least 22 extra houses for teachers in remote communities
- continuation of the school nutrition program supporting improved school attendance
- accelerating literacy and numeracy programs and quality teaching initiatives
- remote service delivery:
- continuation of government business managers
- building capacity of interpreter services to support engagement between Indigenous communities and government and non-government agencies
- Commonwealth Ombudsman outreach visits to remote Indigenous communities
- implementation of the NPA on remote service delivery oversighted by Commonwealth and Northern Territory Coordinators General for Remote Service Delivery
- NPA on remote service delivery involving governments working together to implement a new remote service delivery model initially in 26 priority locations
- resetting the relationship:
- leadership development, engagement and community development workshops to build local capacity and support people on the ground
- employment and training of 30 Indigenous Engagement Officers
To achieve the objectives of this agreement, each party has specific responsibilities. The Commonwealth will be responsible for:
- providing funding to the Northern Territory Government for certain projects
- delivering and funding certain services
- development and conduct of the monitoring plan and evaluation strategy
- providing funding to the Northern Territory Government for the implementation of quality teaching and accelerated literacy
- investing $28.4 million over three years for the delivery of a comprehensive youth strategy.
The Northern Territory Government will be responsible for:
- delivery of services that fall within the normal responsibility of the Northern Territory Government, but for which the Commonwealth Government has provided additional support
- providing support and administrative data for the community profiles, the monitoring report for the continued investment in evaluation
- funding night patrols and legal assistance services and continuing to promote family and community safety
- schooling, including teaching and infrastructure resources
- utilising $7.0 million of Building the education revolution allocation to build classrooms in communities
- meeting agreed-upon performance indicators and milestones
- improving Teacher quality national partnership and Literacy and numeracy national partnership.
The states, the territories and the Commonwealth will:
- develop and implement the monitoring plan and evaluation strategy for the initiatives funded under this NPA.