Media Releases

When nothing changes – nothing changes



When nothing changes – nothing changes

The life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT will not change unless there is a fundamental shift in how Government services, programs and policies are delivered.

Findings from the Productivity Commission review into the implementation of the Closing the Gap commitments released this week are very consistent with what was found by the ACT Audit Office in August 2023.

The ACT has great Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, an elected voice to government and does not have the tyranny of distance to overcome in meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This should be the first place that the gap is able to be closed and yet we have some of the worst outcomes in the country in terms of out of home care and incarceration rates especially.

The review found governments are failing in their commitments under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, they do not fully grasp the nature and scale of the changes required, and urgently needed to “close the gap between words and action”.  Just as significantly there are no consequences on officials or government when they fail.

In the ACT we have seen a significant commitment in recent weeks to enhance resources for the Elected Body that will enable members to dedicate more time to this important work. “The additional resourcing for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body announced by Minister Stephen-Smith strengthens our ability to represent the local community, but in this equation we are not the problem. Too many in the ACT Government agencies have not changed the way they are doing business with our community and after almost 5 years of the current agreements are still talking about talking.”

We are calling on the leaders within the ACT Government to refocus their priorities to redress their approaches to delivering outcomes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and we will be seeking meetings to elevate key priorities such:

  • proportional funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service organisations
  • a targeted and cross directorate approach to reducing incarceration levels
  • accelerated implementation of the Our Booris Our Way recommendations
  • a whole of service approach to understanding, identifying and redressing systemic discrimination.
  • the return of management of Boomanulla Oval to community control
  • redress the widening attainment gap that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the rest of ACT school children year on year of their education journey.

Media contact: Katrina Fanning AO PSM, Secretariat ATSIEB 0400157637

Media contact

ATSIEB Secretariat

(02) 6205 2551

Media release

09 February 2024


Acknowledgement of Country


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body acknowledges the traditional custodians of Canberra, and those who have made it their home. We celebrate their ongoing culture and contribution to the ACT and surrounding regions.