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What is Closing the Gap?

Closing the Gap is a government strategy that aims to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement, and employment outcomes [1][2]. It is a formal commitment made by all Australian governments to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within 25 years.

Closing the Gap was developed in response to the call of the Social justice report 2005 [3] and the Close the Gap social justice campaign [1][2]. In March 2008, Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people agreed 'to work together to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2030' when they signed the Indigenous health equality summit statement of intent [4].

To monitor change, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has set measurable targets to monitor improvements in the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population [1]. The targets are:

Every year, the Prime Minister releases a Closing the Gap report to Parliament that details the progress on these targets. A report is also released by the Close the Gap Steering Committee that details progress on the two health-related targets and provides recommendations to the government.

These targets identify some of the substantial disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; the achievement of substantial improvements in health and wellbeing will depend largely on the effective implementation of strategies to achieve these targets.

The generous timeframes for the Closing the Gap targets recognise the enormity of the challenge facing governments and the nation; effective, integrated, comprehensive strategies and policies will need to be sustained for a long time to enable targeted improvements to be reached.


  1. Council of Australian Governments (2009) National Indigenous reform agreement (closing the gap). Canberra: Council of Australian Governments
  2. Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (2009) Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage: the challenge for Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia
  3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2005) Social justice report 2005. Sydney: Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission
  4. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2008) Close the gap: Indigenous health equality summit, statement of intent. Canberra: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Last updated: 15 November 2016
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