9 August 2021
A new plan to Close the Gap in South Australia
South Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Network (SAACCON) has signed an historic agreement with the South Australian Government, which promises to make significant improvements to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in this state.
“This agreement is very significant forA Aboriginal people,” said SAACCON Convenor, Mr Scott Wilson.
“For too long, we have not had a true seat at the decision making table. This agreement, the South Australian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, sets in motion an opportunity now for us to make some real changes and make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal people.”
Mr Wilson said the Implementation Plan, signed by the Premier and SAACCON recognises the far reaching, intergenerational impacts of colonisation and dispossession which excluded Aboriginal people, resulting in entrenched, systemic and structural racism and disadvantage.
“We now have a chance to right the wrongs and commit to a new way of developing and implementing policies and programs that impact on the lives of Aboriginal people,” said Mr Wilson.
SAACCON Co-Convenor, Ms Tina Quitadamo said the Implementation Plan, is a whole of government plan covering all agencies, local government and statutory bodies.
“We understand there is a lot of work to do; and we know translating the words in this plan into action is critical as is ensuring accountability and driving structural change to help Close the Gap,” said Ms Quitadamo.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations look forward to working with our communities and all the branches of government to identify new ways of doing business with each other.
“We are hoping these changes will speed up the process of Closing the Gaps,” she said.
The Priority Reforms that have been identified are:
§ Shared decision-making authority, with governments, to accelerate policy and place-based progress on Closing the Gap through formal partnership arrangements.
§ Building the community-controlled sector to be strong and sustainable, delivering high quality services to meet the needs of Aboriginal peoples across the country.
§ Improving mainstream institutions: Governments, their organisations and their institutions are accountable for Closing the Gap and are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal peoples, including through the services they fund.
§ Aboriginal-led data: Aboriginal people have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to set and monitor the implementation of efforts to close the gap, their priorities and drive their own development.
“The Implementation Plan has been designed to be a living document and in partnership with the State Government we intend to update it as we go. Good plans allow for flexibility. We believe it is a very good start to making real progress on improving the lives of Aboriginal people,” he Mr Wilson.
SAACCON is auspiced under the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement. ALRM CEO Mr Chris Larkin said he was hopeful that real change could come about as a result of the agreement.
“There is a lot of work to be done, and of course, it will take time but this is the beginning of a new way of doing business between Aboriginal people and governments,” said Mr Larkin.
· The South Australian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan has been developed in response to national calls from Aboriginal people, particularly the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisation (CoP), for a greater level of Aboriginal consultation and involvement. www.saaccon.org.au
· SAACCON is a member of the Coalition of Peaks.
· The Coalition of Peaks is a representative body of over 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations and members. They joined together to be formal partners with Australian governments on Closing the Gap. www.coalitionofpeaks.org.au
· South Australia, as a member of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), and SAACCON as a member of the CoP, entered into a formal partnership in 2018 to develop and implement a refreshed Closing the Gap framework. www.closingthegap.gov.au
· SAACCON is auspiced by Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement. The SA Government has provided funding to ALRM to establish a SAACCON Secretariat.
SAACCON's Strategic Planning Workshop
On 23 and 24 February 2021, SAACCON members came together at Port Augusta for a Strategic Planning Workshop to plan for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
Visit by June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
On 2 June 2021, SAACCON members welcomed the visit of June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and her team with a presentation on The Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices Report.
Left to Right: SAACCON (Scott Wilson, Chris Larkin, Douglas Milera, Klynton Wanganeen and Tina Quitadamo) and June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Lluwannee George, Senior Policy Officer, Social Justice Team and Kimberley Hunter, Research and Policy Officer, Social Justice Team.
ConcessionsSA offers South Australians on Centrelink or a low income help with their cost of living pressures. Staff from ConcessionsSA spoke at a SAACCON meeting about improving access to the concessions available to Aboriginal people.
Help may be:
1. A discount or cash payment to help with a household bill
2. A benefit (like a special card) that gives a discount, or something for free.
There are many concessions available. Visit www.sa.gov.au/concessions
SAACCON hopes to work with ConcessionsSA to improve their service to Aboriginal South Australians.