In 2005, Tom Calma, the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, released the Social justice report 2005. This important report called for the governments of Australia to commit to achieving equality for Indigenous people in the areas of health and life expectancy within 25 years.
In March 2006, the National Indigenous Health Equality Campaign (which used Close the gap for its public awareness campaign) was developed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Australian Indigenous Doctor's Association (AIDA), the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN), the Indigenous Dentists' Association of Australia (IDAA), Oxfam Australia and Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR). A Steering Committee was established to help guide the campaign. Indigenous and non-Indigenous health organisations and human rights organisations became involved in the campaign which was committed to bringing Indigenous health inequality to an end.
The Close the gap campaign was formally launched in Sydney in April 2007. This public awareness campaign, organised by NACCHO, ANTAR and Oxfam Australia, united the voices of more than 40 organisations urging the state, territory and federal governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and other Australians within a generation.
On 20 December 2007, COAG, which includes the leaders of federal, state and territory, and local governments, committed to closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Importantly, COAG agreed to be accountable for reaching this goal within a specific timeframe. The strategy initiated at this time by COAG has become known as Closing the gap.
The National Indigenous Health Equality Summit was held in Canberra on 18-20 March 2008. The Close the gap Indigenous health equality targets were presented to delegates of the summit and on 20 March 2008 the Indigenous health equality summit statement of intent  was signed. The signatories to the Statement of intent were:
The Statement of intent stipulates that the Australian governments and Indigenous peoples will ‘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'. To date, the Queensland, Victorian, Australian Capital Territory, Western Australian, South Australian and New South Wales governments have signed the Statement of intent. Other state and territory governments have made various commitments to improving Indigenous health (see state and territory Close the gap commitments).
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced at the summit the establishment of the National Indigenous Health Equality Council (NIHEC). NIHEC provides national leadership to help address the gap in Indigenous health status by bringing together representatives from Australian governments and the Indigenous and mainstream health sectors. The NIHEC membership was formally announced by the Minister for Health, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, on 10 July 2008.
This is the first time that such a high level of commitments has been made by the Australian, state and territory governments and others, raising the possibility of substantial improvement in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people.
In November 2008, COAG agreed to the National Indigenous reform agreement (NIRA) . This Agreement provides a comprehensive overview of the steps being taken to achieve the Closing the gap targets, including the relevant objectives, outcomes, outputs, performance measures, and benchmarks in the various national partnership agreements (NPAs).
COAG committed in November 2008 $4.6 billion towards Closing the gap, the funds directed to projects in health, housing, early childhood, economic participation, and remote service delivery.
In February 2009 the Prime Minister delivered the first annual report to Parliament, Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage: the challenge for Australia , detailing the progress against the Closing the Gap targets. The second annual report, Closing the gap - Prime Minister's report 2010 , was released in February 2010. The reports states the past and future financial commitments to improve the transparency and accountability of the Australian Government spending policy.