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Victoria's Closing the Gap Implementation Plan initially ran from 2021-2023. It has been extended until June 2025 to allow time for ongoing consultation with First Peoples stakeholders to self-determine next steps in the development of a new implementation plan.

This also aligns with the current term of Victoria's Closing the Gap Partnership Forum, the Victorian Government's formal partner for the national agreement implementation.


Opening statement, message from the Acting Premier, and working in partnership.

Opening statement

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Chair of the Aboriginal Executive Council

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (national agreement) represents a fundamental shift in the approach of Governments to closing the gap, one that is built upon genuine and meaningful partnerships with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector, Traditional Owner groups and the wider Aboriginal community. This shift has been driven at the national level by the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks (coalition of peaks), and here in Victoria by the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC) and other key Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).

The original closing the gap framework was not able to deliver on the hope and expectation it created as it was not developed or implemented in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, nor did it adequately resource Aboriginal communities as the drivers of change. Unlike the original framework, the new national agreement reflects the needs, expectations and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people from across Australia.

Whilst Victoria is in the early stages of transferring power, decision-making and resources to the Aboriginal community-controlled sector and Aboriginal-communities, we know this is central to developing a new relationship between the State and Victoria’s First Peoples. This is reflected in Victoria’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan and the Victorian Government’s broader commitment to Treaty, working with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (Assembly); and to truth telling through the Yoo-rrook Commission.

Prioritising self-determined solutions that promote culture, connection and community strengthening is the key to closing the gap. We are ensuring the preservation of Aboriginal culture by supporting Aboriginal Elders, and empowering the next generation of proud, strong and thriving Aboriginal people to continue their culture.

A strong, sustainable, and well-resourced Aboriginal community-controlled sector will enable the delivery of critical services across all areas of inequity, including health, justice, education and employment whilst also driving accountability of other parties to deliver on their responsibilities.

For thousands of years, Victoria’s Traditional Owner communities have expertly managed Country and its natural resources to ensure sustainable food supplies, ongoing prosperity and the maintenances of strong culture. They remain the traditional custodians of the lands, waters and country that we all live and work upon and have profound cultural, spiritual and economic connections through their relationship with country. This connectedness to land and water resources on country is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal families and communities.

Continued connection to country, and particularly through increasing the role of Aboriginal communities in caring for country, improves the social and emotional wellbeing outcomes across all aspects of community as well as provide Aboriginal Victorians with opportunities for economic advancement.

Our shared aspiration extends beyond closing the gap and reflects a move away from just measuring life expectancy towards fulfilling what Aboriginal people desire out of life.

Aboriginal people know what is best for themselves, their families and their communities. Commitments under the national agreement include transferring power and resources from Government Departments and mainstream agencies to Aboriginal community control, strengthening shared decision-making structures, achieving a minimum level of progress against socio-economic targets by 2031, and independent Aboriginal led evaluation and monitoring of progress.

Self‑determination is the human right that underpins our collective efforts under the national agreement and Victoria’s existing Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF) 2018-2023. The VAAF is Victoria’s overarching framework for Aboriginal Affairs and commits the Government to advancing Aboriginal self-determination through an ambitious, forward-looking agenda.

The Aboriginal Executive Council is the Victorian Government’s partner in closing the gap implementation. The AEC was established in 2017 to provide sector-specific advice on whole of government self-determination reform. AEC meets jointly with the Secretaries’ Leadership Group on Aboriginal Affairs (SLG), to set self-determination reform priorities, and the Senior Officers’ Group on Aboriginal Affairs (SOG), to operationalise these. AEC also meets independently of government.

This commitment acknowledges that the best outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians are achieved when policies and programs are based on their knowledge, expertise and priorities.

While Aboriginal self-determination means different things to different people, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) describes self-determination as the ability for Indigenous people to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Australia is a signatory to international law instruments, including UNDRIP, that affirm the right to self-determination for Indigenous peoples

In implementing the national agreement, we will continue to be driven by the right to self-determination and existing commitments under the VAAF. We will pursue more ambitious targets in areas such as youth and adult justice, and family violence and push beyond the closing the gap targets where they are already within reach. We are committed to parity and equity.

Alongside closing the gap, the foundational work to support future treaty negotiations with the Assembly is continuing. The Assembly is the sole representative of Aboriginal Victorians for the purpose of working with the State to establish by agreement the elements necessary to support future treaty negotiations.

We know that restoring the health, wellbeing and prosperity of Aboriginal people and communities requires acknowledging and understanding past wrongs, from their perspective, and the intergenerational impacts. The establishment of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, the first of its kind anywhere in Australia, represents a significant step forward on Victoria’s path towards treaty. Truth-telling recognises the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people and acknowledges that it is only through a shared understanding of, and reckoning with, our past that Victorians – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – can build a shared future. Treaty and truth telling are fundamental to closing the gap.

Victoria’s commitment to closing the gap is unequivocal. We will be clear about our commitments, rigorous in assessing progress and always led by the views, aspirations, rights and priorities of Victoria’s Aboriginal community.

Message from the Acting Premier

After generations of injustice, dispossession and deprivation, we need to recognise a fundamental truth:

If we are genuinely committed to better outcomes for Aboriginal people, then they need to be led by Aboriginal people.

It’s why here in Victoria, we’re proud to be progressing both truth-telling and Treaty.

The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will serve as our nation’s first formal truth-telling forum – compelling us to confront what’s come before and acknowledging that the pain of our past lives on in our present.

We’re also delivering on our promise to give Aboriginal Victorians a voice by establishing – and enshrining in law – the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

Our state’s first and only democratically elected body for First Nations people, the Assembly ensures that Aboriginal people are at the heart of Victoria’s Treaty discussions.

Far more than a seat at the table, this is recognition that the table – and the Treaty process – must belong to Aboriginal people too.

Although, in many respects, Victoria continues to lead the nation, there remains much more to be done.

As a state and as a nation, we need to acknowledge the deep injustices Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to confront – and their remarkable strength and survival in the face of it all.

Together, we must do more.

A more just, more equal, more decent future – for all Australians – is relying on it.

Working in partnership

Purpose of this implementation plan

Victoria’s implementation plan on closing the gap (implementation plan) outlines the actions Victoria will undertake to achieve the objective of the new national agreement on closing the gap:

‘overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians’

The purpose of this implementation plan is to make clear the work we will undertake for the first three years of the national agreement (2021-2023). The plan is not fixed for three years. It will be closely monitored and reviewed. Victoria has worked in close partnership with the AEC, other key Aboriginal partnership forums and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (collectively referred throughout this plan to as Victoria’s Implementation Partners) to develop this plan. We will continue to work with our Implementation Partners to identify specific additional measures required to keep the closing the gap targets on a trajectory to success.

This plan, is the first of a series running to 2031, and focuses on the enablers that will drive Closing the Gap in the long term. Quite deliberately the first stage of implementation will involve engagement and consultation with the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal governance structures so that the plan remains responsive to emerging needs.

The plan focuses on embedding key priority reform enablers across the work of Victorian government including:

  • Priority Reform 1: Formal partnerships and shared decision-making.
  • Priority Reform 2: Building the community-controlled sector.
  • Priority Reform 3: Transforming government organisations.
  • Priority Reform 4: Shared access to data and information at a regional level.

Enablers of success include implementing Aboriginal Funding Reform, providing ACCOs with longer term flexible funding with reduced administrative burden; Data Development, ensuring that progress against the commitments in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework and the closing the gap outcomes and targets can be assessed at regional and statewide level and committing to ACCO Sector Development Plans to grow and sustain the ACCO sector across all Closing the Gap outcome areas.

The enablers set the groundwork for lasting change. They will ensure we achieve sustainable, long-term success, that we equip Victoria’s Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to take the lead while ensuring Departments and mainstream services are accountable for delivering effective culturally-safe services.

The plan references specific clauses under the national agreement including those that have specified timeframes for completion. The Plan includes, Jurisdictional Actions, actions that the Victorian Government is required to undertake, and Partnership Actions, actions that all governments and the Coalition of Peaks must work on collectively and implement nationally.

This plan is informed by and includes commitments from existing State Government policy including the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 (VAAF). The plan aligns these existing commitments, on areas such as funding reform, with the reforms and strategies under the national agreement.

As a public document the plan will assist the Victorian Aboriginal community to hold all parties under the national agreement, the Commonwealth, State and Local Government, mainstream agencies and ACCOs, to account for their role in closing the gap.

Closing the gap partnership

In October 2018, a revised closing the gap framework was due to be finalised and signed off by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – a forum consisting of the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the Australian Local Government Association.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) from across Australia came together as the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks to call for the new closing the gap framework be re-developed through a formal and equal partnership with the ACCO sector. The AEC joined the Coalition of Peaks and advocated to the Victorian Government that it support this position.

At their meeting in December 2018 COAG agreed to enter into a formal partnership and in March 2019, a formal partnership agreement on closing the gap (the partnership) was established between the Commonwealth Government, State and Territory Governments, the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks) and the Australian Local Government Association.

From 2019-2029, the partnership agreement commits all parties to the shared governance of closing the gap through a Joint Council on Closing the Gap. The Joint Council on Closing the Gap is comprised of 12 ACCO Peak representatives (one from each State and Territory and four national ACCO peak representatives) and 9 Government representatives (the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers or their Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs and the Australian Local Government Association).

The Joint Council on closing the gap, which represents both government and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the ultimate decision-making body on closing the gap. In July 2020, the Joint Council signed off the national agreement on closing the gap with an expanded set of agreed outcomes and targets to be achieved by 2031 and its four priority reforms as the drivers of sustainable change. Under the national agreement all governments are required to develop Closing the Gap implementation plans with their initial implementation plan to be provided to Joint Council in July 2021

Victoria plays an important role in the Partnership and has strongly advocated for all governments to commit to genuine Aboriginal community control to improve the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.

Shifting the way in which governments works with Aboriginal communities and organisations takes time. The national agreement and this implementation plan set the groundwork for this necessary change by prioritising partnership in decision making between governments and Aboriginal communities, making mainstream organisations more culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as improved data sharing.

Partnership on this implementation plan

The actions contained in the implementation plan along with the commitments made under the national agreement will be felt first-hand by Victoria’s Aboriginal communities. To ensure the Plan reflects the needs of the wider Aboriginal community, Victoria has worked in close partnership with the AEC and other key Aboriginal partnership forums and Aboriginal community controlled organisations (collectively referred throughout this plan to as Victoria’s Implementation Partners) to develop this plan.

The AEC and the Victorian Government’s Secretaries’ Leadership Group on Aboriginal Affairs (SLG) holds responsibility for development, oversight and review of Victoria’s closing the gap implementation plan. To draft the plan a Working Group consisting of officials from all Victorian Government departments, our Implementation Partners and key representatives from Aboriginal community-controlled sector organisations was established. Input into the Working Group was drawn from existing Aboriginal governance structures across all service sectors.

The actions contained in this plan will be felt first-hand by Victoria’s Aboriginal communities. Ongoing engagement with Traditional Owners, Aboriginal community and the ACCO sector is a feature of the plan, which will assist in developing new iterations of this plan informed by ongoing reviews.

Final endorsement of the plan was provided through the joint AEC and the Secretaries’ Leadership Group on Aboriginal Affairs prior to sign off by the Victorian Cabinet.

Working with local government

Local Government is central to the achievement of equity and closing the gap for Aboriginal communities and has a responsibility under the national agreement to actively support closing the gap implementation. Recognising the critical role and potential of local government to contribute to closing the gap, the Victorian Government has developed this implementation plan in consultation with local government, to ensure local councils can be engaged to drive positive change.

To acknowledge the important role of local governments, Victoria appointed a State Ambassador for closing the gap (State Ambassador). Victoria’s State Ambassador is Christine Couzens MP, who has actively engaged and advocated with local councils to strengthen shared decision making at the local level with Aboriginal communities.

The role of local governments will continue to develop throughout the life span of this implementation plan. Victoria will shortly be refreshing the Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Strategy, which will align the Whole of Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs program of work with the vital services and programs delivered by local governments.

Accountability, monitoring and reporting progress

Independent monitoring and annual reporting against the closing the gap outcomes and targets is essential to accountability and ensuring that the Aboriginal and broader community has access to regular information on progress.

The national agreement has specific requirements for accountability monitoring and reporting that must be adhered to by all governments. Consistent with the national agreement the following will occur:

  • The Productivity Commission will:
    • develop with the Joint Council a publicly accessible data dashboard on progress against closing the gap covering all State and Territories
    • undertake a comprehensive independent review of progress every 3 years.
  • Each party, including the Victorian Government and the Coalition of Peaks, must prepare an annual public report including information on the measures and actions taken to implement the national agreement and the number of ACCOs funded and supported under closing the gap.
  • At the national level independent Aboriginal led reviews of progress will be carried out within 12 months of each Productivity Commission review.

Under the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF) 2018-2023 the State Government has committed to the establishment of an Aboriginal led evaluation and review mechanism to provide independent monitoring the VAAF goals and measures.

Since then, the establishment of the Assembly and Victoria’s journey towards Treaty means this overarching reporting and review mechanisms will be considered and developed having regard to structural and systemic reform proposed through the treaty process.

Until independent Aboriginal-led evaluation and review mechanisms are finalised, Victoria will report on closing the gap measures under the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Report (VGAAR). Currently the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet has lead responsibility for the development of the annual VGAAR. Victoria will embed and report on closing the gap through the VGAAR, which is tabled in Parliament annually in July. Current reporting requires annual progress reports on Victoria’s implementation and commitments to embed self-determination across all areas of the government.

Whilst not an independent report, the VGAAR provides progress on not only how better life outcomes and equity is being achieved but aims to hold government accountable for what we are doing to improve outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians and enable self‑determination. It provides an overview of how government is working with community to realise the goals and objectives of the Self-Determination Reform Framework and encompasses the Victorian commitment to embed self-determination across all areas of government.

The 2020 VGAAR Report tracks progress against 111 VAAF measures across 20 goals, as well as reporting on action towards the government’s commitment to self-determination. The report demonstrates a significant shift in the way government measures and reports on outcomes in Aboriginal affairs. Along with the publication of this year’s VGAAR in late 2020, an interactive data dashboard was launched to improve transparency and accessibility of government data.

The annual VGAAR is subject to review by the AEC and tabled in Parliament, to ensure transparency and accountability from both government and the community-controlled sector. This will continue to occur as the VGAAR monitors Victoria’s progress and reports on actions under this implementation plan.

The Victorian Government will work with the Victoria’s Implementation Partners to ensure Aboriginal-led evaluation and review against the VAAF and the national agreement on closing the gap progresses in the immediate term. A summary of this annual VGAAR review will be included in the VGAAR when tabled in Parliament, while acknowledging that in the longer term, both Treaty and the recommendations of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will likely lead to significant systemic reform, including in relation to systems oversight and accountability.

The VGAAR and implementation plan will also be tabled at an annual meeting of the AEC, all departmental secretaries and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and representatives from Aboriginal partnership forums to provide an opportunity to discuss progress and additional measured required to accelerate meeting our commitments under the national agreement.

Making a difference

This implementation plan acknowledges that real and sustained impacts are made through Aboriginal self-determination.

This plan, which is for an initial three-year period, focuses on advancing Aboriginal self-determination through empowering the community-controlled sector, transferring power and resources to the Aboriginal community-controlled sector, promoting accountability of Government Departments and mainstream service providers and breaking down systemic barriers faced by Aboriginal people throughout life.

The plan will drive the 4 closing the gap priority reforms that hold the key to achieving and exceeding the socio-economic targets and outcomes within the national agreement. The Victorian Government will continue to transform the way in which we work with the Aboriginal community-controlled sector to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are respected to make decisions about their own lives.

Priority reforms

Priority reform areas outlined are mutually reinforcing enablers in order to successfully achieve equity and better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Victoria.

These reforms respond to the voices and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and provide a clear strategy for changing the way governments work with community. These reforms will support the overall objective of the National Agreement – equity.

The priority reforms are consistent with Victoria’s nation-leading approach to Aboriginal affairs, and complement our existing policies and commitments including the VAAF, Treaty and the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission. These actions combined demonstrate the changing nature of the relationship between the Victorian Government and the Victorian Aboriginal community, towards partnership and self-determination.

The priority reform areas set out foundational enablers for changing the way we work, which includes embedding Aboriginal-led approaches that are underpinned by self-determination and partnership. We recognise that improved outcomes can only be achieved through policy initiatives that are informed and guided by Aboriginal communities.

As the funder and provider of many of the services accessed by Aboriginal Victorians, government must also transform its systems and structures to support self-determination and improve outcomes for Aboriginal peoples.

Victoria is committed to embedding these priority reform areas in our planned activity over the next three years. Work is already underway in transforming the way government works, with key reforms and nation-leading projects across all four Priority Reform areas including:

Priority reform 1: Partnership and shared decision-making


People are empowered to share decision-making authority with governments to accelerate policy and place-based progress on closing the gap through formal partnership arrangements


There will be formal partnership arrangements to support closing the gap in place between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments in place in each state and territory enshrining agreed joint decision-making roles and responsibilities and where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have chosen their own representatives.

Victoria recognises that meaningful and sustainable change can only come about if Aboriginal people are empowered to share decision-making authority with governments. This is articulated in the VAAF as a step on the continuum towards self-determination. Victoria has established shared governance and decision-making mechanisms, including through our partnership with the Aboriginal Executive Council on closing the gap and the development of this plan.

The AEC, as the Victorian member for the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, play a crucial advocacy role in Victorian Aboriginal Affairs. Due to this advocacy, and in part Victoria’s significant involvement in developing the National Agreement, many of the agreements commitments under the Priority Reform Areas align with the work programs of Victoria’s Implementation Partners.

The AEC continues to operate as the Victorian member of the Coalition of Peaks working with all governments to progress the partnership actions and joint commitments at the national level.

Partnership actions

The Victorian Government is committed to partnership actions under the National Agreement, including the establishment of policy partnerships and place-based partnerships.

Jurisdictional actions

The Victorian Government has many structures and mechanisms to partner with the ACCO Sector and Aboriginal community. In alignment with the National Agreement, existing governance forums, including Local Aboriginal Networks, will be tasked with completing a self-evaluation of their structure against Partnership Elements outlined in clauses 32 and 33 of the National Agreement.

In 2020, the Improving Aboriginal Governance Structures Project, commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, outlined a series of recommendations for how existing shared governance structures could be collectively improved. This will be an important resource for the self-evaluation process to draw upon.

As part of priority reform 1, the Victorian Government will:

  • ensure that the parameters for the self-evaluation process will include the option of improving investment in independent Aboriginal-led policy secretariats for each of the existing Aboriginal governance forums. The eventual establishment of reporting and evaluation approaches will be considered and developed having regard to structural and systemic reform proposed through the treaty process and the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission
  • consider the principles in the Partnership Agreement on closing the gap
  • agree with existing Aboriginal Governance Structures arrangements for their role in independent review and monitoring of the Victoria’s closing the gap implementation plan and the VAAF
  • work with Aboriginal Governance Structures to strengthen their role in the State Budget process
  • respond to findings and recommendations arising from the Improving Aboriginal Governance Structures Project
  • align these recommendations with the principles elaborated on in the Partnership Agreement on closing the gap.

Current initiatives

Shared decision-making through Aboriginal governance structures is crucial for ensuring self-determining and culturally appropriate responses are provided for the Victorian Aboriginal Community. Victoria has a long history of shared decision-making through both the Aboriginal Justice Forum and the partnership in Aboriginal Education (1990) and the resulting Yalca Agreement (2001) - which has existed for over a decade. These forums have developed and evolved over time to respond to the changing needs of communities. Victoria is committed to further strengthening these structures and incorporating meaningful partnership opportunities moving forward.

Shared Aboriginal – State Government decision-making structures include:

  • The Aboriginal Justice Forum
  • Aboriginal Children’s Forum
  • Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum
  • Marrung Central Governance Committee
  • Victorian Aboriginal Employment and Economic Council
  • Aboriginal Strategic Governance Forum
  • Aboriginal Health Partnership Forum
  • Victorian Aboriginal Employment and Economic Council
  • Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum, Implementation Action Group and Implementation Working Group)
  • Aboriginal Executive Council/Secretaries Leadership Group on Aboriginal Affairs
  • State-wide Caring for Country Partnership Forum

Priority reform 2: Building the community-controlled sector


Building the community-controlled sector: There is a strong and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector delivering high quality services to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.


Increase the amount of government funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services going through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations.

Victoria acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services produce better, more sustainable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. They achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and are often preferred over mainstream services. Empowering the sector to provide culturally sensitive, appropriate, and accessible services to Victorian Aboriginal communities is in line with Victoria’s ongoing commitment to self-determination.

Building the capacity and capability of the community-controlled sector also drives sustainability and self-determination by equipping organisations to set the policy direction for, and independently plan the services, they provide to their people and community.

Victoria is committed to embedding the elements of a strong community-controlled sector across its actions under this priority reform area, by working towards ensuring:

  • there is sustained capacity building and investment proportionate to the number of people accessing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to deliver certain services to address community identified needs, and address issues through a set of clearly defined standards or requirements, such as an agreed model of care
  • there is a dedicated and identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce (that complements a range of other professions and expertise) and people working in community-controlled sectors have wage parity based on workforce modelling commensurate with need
  • a strong and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce that experiences wage parity through aligning workforce costs in State Budget business case development with current Victorian Public Service remuneration standards
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations which deliver common services are supported by a Peak Body, governed by a majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board, which has strong governance and policy development and influencing capacity
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations which deliver common services have a dedicated, flexible, reliable and consistent funding model designed to suit the types of services required by communities, responsive to the needs of those receiving the services, and is developed in consultation with the relevant peak body.

This Priority Reform will align with the VAAF by:

  • Taking guidance from the VAAF action logic and self-determination continuum, which provides a path towards improved outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians through the transformation of structures and systems.
  • Working alongside the ambition set by Goal 9 of the VAAAF: Strong Aboriginal workforce participation. The VAAF recognises that Aboriginal staff bring unique knowledge, skills and expertise to the workforce and understand the needs and aspirations of the Aboriginal community. The importance of representation working in sectors like the Victorian public service also enhances the quality of the workplace and career experiences.

Partnership actions

  • As agreed by the Joint Council on closing the gap in April 2021, Victoria will develop Sector Strengthening Plans for the four sectors identified for priority action - early childhood care, housing, health, and disability. The Victorian Government will work closely with Coalition of Peaks and the relevant Aboriginal community-controlled sectors to support the development of these plans. Active engagement with both the Coalition of Peaks and the community-controlled sector will ensure these plans reflect the needs and expectations of the sector, and in turn produce better outcomes for the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
  • The Victorian Government is also committed to fast-tracking work on the justice policy partnership, which is a commitment under the National Agreement (clause 28). This policy partnership has been expedited due to the pressing need to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates across Australia. This work will be progressed in partnership between the Commonwealth, States and Territories, and Coalition of Peaks.

Jurisdictional actions

Consistent with clause 46 of the National Agreement, the Victorian Government is committed to building the Aboriginal community-controlled sectors across all outcome areas of the National Agreement on closing the gap. This will include, but not be limited to, the four sectors specified as priorities in the National Agreement - early childhood care and development, housing, health, and disability

Work to develop the Sector Strengthening Plans will commence during the first year of this implementation plan with existing Aboriginal governance structures playing a key role in developing the plans.

Sector strengthening is required across all areas of the community-controlled sector, given the integrated and wholistic nature of many ACCOs. The first four priority sectors listed above will have immediate focus in line with the National Agreement.

This consideration will be informed by Victoria’s baseline performance against targets and its performance relative to other jurisdictions. For example, at 30 June 2019, Victoria had the highest rate of overrepresentation in out-of-home care in Australia, with Aboriginal children being placed in care at 20 times the rate of their non-Indigenous peers. In 2020, there were 3,518 family violence incidents in Victoria in which Aboriginal women were the victim/survivors. We know that family violence is under-reported and that there has been no significant or sustained decrease over the past five years. This data highlights the need to strengthen ACCOs to provide early intervention and family support for families at risk of child protection involvement and incidents of family violence as a priority.

The Victorian Government recognises that building the ACCO sector must include more than building their contracted service delivery role. As such, Sector Strengthening Plans will include actions that pertain to:

  • resourcing ACCOs for their cultural programs, community, sport and recreation activities and their roles in community development and advocacy
  • the prioritising of cultural activities and languages
  • the multi-functional nature of many ACCOs that provide services across a diversity of closing the gap outcomes
  • supporting and resourcing ACCOs to transition to carbon neutral service operations
  • resourcing the development of existing ACCOs to extend their scope of operations in response to local/regional community needs and aspirations
  • providing access to long-term support, particularly to smaller ACCOs, to develop and expand their scope of operations
  • identifying locations/regions where new ACCOs should be developed in line with local community aspirations.

More broadly, the Victorian Government will undertake the following actions to strengthen the ACCO sector and achieve the objective of the National Agreement:

  • In partnership with the ACCO sector and shared governance structures, identify and embed initiatives that enable Aboriginal Elders to live longer healthier and active lives and enjoy community engagement and connection in accordance with cultural protocols, by embedding mandatory consideration of the needs and rights of Elders in all aspects of Victoria’s implementation plan, including in each sector strengthening plan. Early consideration will also be given to standalone policy for Aboriginal Elders.
  • In alignment with Clause 55b of the National Agreement, where new funding programs are intended to service the broader population, allocate a meaningful proportion of funding to ACCOs
  • Consolidation of accreditation, regulation and standards to support holistic culturally based service provision by ACCOs, noting work that is already underway in relation to this such as the Department of Fairness, Families and Housing review of the Human Services Standards.
  • Taking account of Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-Year Draft Infrastructure Strategy plan for, and undertake long-term investment in ACCO infrastructure that is fit for purpose and accommodates the service breadth of ACCOs.

This Implementation Plan will also integrate existing funding and actions from the AEC/SLG meetings that directly align with Victoria’s commitments under the National Agreement. This includes commitments to:

  • contractual and Systemic Funding Reform: Clauses 55a and 55b
  • alignment of State Budget Development Process with Aboriginal Governance Structures
  • establishing a baseline of funding for the ACCO sector: Clauses 59-62
  • streamline funding arrangements through options such as pooled funding, longer-term funding agreements, optimised purposeful reporting and minimised compliance burden
  • systemic funding reforms that align with Aboriginal self-determination and provide maximum flexibility to respond to local community priorities
  • alignment of the State Budget development process, service planning and funding with the high level of Aboriginal population growth in Victoria and regional variations in population growth
  • by July 2022 identify current State Government spending on Aboriginal programs and services and identify opportunities to re-prioritise funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (Clause 113).

Current initiatives

Victoria is committed to strengthening the ACCO sector, which is in line with our commitment to self-determination. Empowering ACCOs to determine their own planning and funding priorities provides sustainable, flexible and culturally appropriate responses for Aboriginal Victorians. Existing initiatives aimed at strengthening the ACCO sector include:

Aboriginal Workforce Fund to strengthen Aboriginal workforce capacity and capability

The Victorian Government has partnered with the Aboriginal community controlled sector to design a funding model for the $40 million Aboriginal Workforce Fund. For the first time in Victoria, Aboriginal community controlled organisations are creating a model which builds their organisation’s workforce capacity without a complicated and onerous application process. The fund is being co-designed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and the Victorian Aboriginal Social Recovery Advisory Group. It will use Aboriginal measures of success and funding will be allocated on the advice of Aboriginal-led governance groups.

Funding to Aboriginal community controlled organisations

The Victorian Government’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) are co-designing with Aboriginal community controlled organisations (ACCOs) a suite of reforms to the way funding is provided to the sector. Reforms include a prioritisation funding policy, longer term funding contracts, a pooled outcome based funding model and a reduction to onerous reporting and accountability processes, including multiple funding reports to the one department. The pooled outcome based funding model is being piloted with three Aboriginal community controlled organisations. The pilot model will include health and human service funding across both DFFH and the Department of Health. Critical features of the model will be:

  • measuring investment against Aboriginal defined outcomes
  • co-design of service agreements
  • reduced reporting burden
  • monitoring and evaluation processes to measure impact.

COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund

The $10 million COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund (Fund) was established in 2020, following calls from the COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Taskforce that the community-controlled sector required more funding opportunities to provide local services to their communities. The Fund provided flexible funding to Aboriginal communities and organisations across four categories - Emergency Relief, Outreach and Brokerage, Cultural Strengthening and Social and Emotional Wellbeing.

The Fund ensured Aboriginal communities were adequately resourced to develop local, place-based responses to address key impacts of COVID-19. Government is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal self-determination is embedded throughout response and recovery efforts. To ensure that post-COVID-19, all Aboriginal people, families and communities are safe, resilient, thriving and living culturally rich lives, the Victorian Aboriginal Social Recovery Advisory Group was developed to continue the crucial work required to recover from COVID-19 impacts.

Priority Reform 3: Transforming government organisations

Outcome: 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 and Torres Strait Islander people, including through the services they fund.

Target: Decrease in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experiences of racism.

The Victorian Government is committed to the services Aboriginal Victorians access being culturally safe and culturally responsive whether the service is provided by an Aboriginal organisation, a government department or agency or a mainstream non-government organisation. As the provider or funder of services intend to benefit the entire community, it is crucial that the Victorian Government ensures its systems, institutions, and the services it funds, are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Historic government policies and processes have caused systemic racism across Victoria’s service system. A culturally safe and racism-free service system is one in which people feel safe, where they can freely affirm their identity and where their needs are met.

The VAAF outlines the Victorian Government’s existing commitment to transform its systems and structures to support self-determination and improve outcomes for Aboriginal peoples. As identified by community, the four enablers which government has committed to act upon to make Aboriginal self-determination a reality are:

  • Prioritise culture
  • Address trauma and support healing
  • Address racism and promote cultural safety
  • Transfer power and resources to community.

The Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report, tabled in Parliament annually, will provide detail on how we are tracking to address these enablers, alongside outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians in a broader range of socio-economic domains than that is captured in the National Agreement. The Victorian Government is making significant inroads towards structural and systemic transformation. This includes action on the Self-Determination Reform Framework, and funding reform.

Under Clause 59 of the National Agreement, Victoria has committed to structural transformation of government organisations and mainstream service providers, including:

  • establishing an anti-racism taskforce which will Identify and eliminate racism through a state-wide anti-racism strategy
  • embed and practice meaningful cultural safety
  • partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people with the goal of these organisations transitioning to independently delivering services in the future.
  • increase accountability through transparent funding allocations
  • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
  • improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Partnership actions

The National Agreement requires governments to identify, develop or strengthen an independent mechanism that will support, monitor and report on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions. The mechanism must be culturally safe and support mainstream agencies to embed and practice culturally appropriate service offerings. It will be required to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to any concerns about mainstream institutions and report publicly on the transformation of mainstream agencies.

Both treaty and the Yoo-rrook Commission will likely lead to significant systemic reform, including in relation to systems oversight and accountability. The Victorian Government will work with Victoria’s Implementation Partners to consider the best approaches for establishing the mechanism to support and monitor the transformation of mainstream agencies, services and institutions. This will include how any mechanism aligns with existing commitments to Aboriginal-led evaluation and review of progress against the VAAF and the closing the gap.

In the immediate term the VGAAR, which is tabled in State Parliament, will incorporate the AEC’s review of the VGAAR as a key Aboriginal sector led accountability approach.

Jurisdictional actions

Through a range of strategies and frameworks, the Victorian Government is undertaking transformative action to ensure institutions are culturally safe and are responsive to the needs of Aboriginal Victorians.

This already includes requiring all Victorian Government departments to report against the Self-Determination Reform Framework on action they are undertaking to transform their organisations in line with the VAAF self-determination enablers. Noting that the statutory bodies are within the scope of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Victorian Government will work with its implementation partners and statutory bodies to ensure they are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of the Victorian Aboriginal community.

Noting that Priority Reform Three is inclusive of mainstream institutions and agencies that are funded by governments to develop policies or deliver services, the Victorian Government will work with ACCOs, mainstream institutions and funded agencies to:

  • develop an agreed health and human services-wide approach to progressing cultural safety of mainstream institutions and funded services
  • develop sector-specific commitments for resource transfer from mainstream NGOs and Government departments to Aboriginal community control.

Other whole-of-government ways in which the Victorian Government is supporting the transformation of institutions are outlined below.

Self-determination reform framework

The Self-Determination Reform Framework guides public service action to enable self-determination in line with government’s commitments in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023. It also provides an architecture for government departments to report annually on this action under the Framework, outlining progress towards transforming government systems and structures to enable self-determination.

Anti-racism strategy and taskforce

The Victorian Government has committed to establishing an Anti-Racism Taskforce to guide the design and implementation of a whole of government Anti-Racism Strategy (strategy). The new state-wide strategy will prevent and crackdown on race-based discrimination and abuse.

The strategy will focus on a broad range of elements that underlay and perpetuate racial discrimination such as unconscious bias, privilege, and the intersection of race and other forms of discrimination.

The new Anti-Racism Taskforce will provide advice and recommendations to the Government to ensure the strategy sets out a clear and targeted road map to reduce racism in Victoria.

The Taskforce is co-chaired by Josh Bull MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Member for Sunbury, and Sheena Watt MP, Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region and a proud Yorta Yorta woman.

Membership includes ex-officio representatives from the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, as well as 11 community members appointed through an open and competitive recruitment process.

The Taskforce comprises people with a broad range of professional and lived experience, reflecting the diversity within our communities. Three young Victorians have been appointed to ensure young people’s voices are central to this work.

Anti-vilification inquiry and inter-departmental working group

The Legislative Assembly’s Legal and Social Issues Committee completed an in-depth inquiry into the overall effectiveness of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (RTTA), and in March 2021, delivered 37 recommendations across multiple portfolios on how to strengthen its effectiveness and eliminate vilification within Victoria.

The government’s response to the Inquiry is being led by the Attorney-General and an Interdepartmental Working Group is coordinating across government to prepare the response and develop a Bill for implementing key recommendations for introduction in 2021.

The Social Procurement Framework (SPF)

The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) led the development and implementation of the SPF. The SPF uses government buying power to generate social value beyond the value of the procurement spend. This has enabled government to support and grow Aboriginal businesses and employees. The framework provides a platform to engage with Aboriginal business and enable access to economic opportunities that may not ordinarily occur.

Longer-term planning to deliver self-determination reform and improved outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians

DTF provides economic, financial and resource management advice to help the Victorian Government deliver its policies.

DTF’s Self-Determination Taskforce was established in 2019 to promote Aboriginal self-determination in DTF’s work and meet commitments in the Self-Determination Reform Framework. Since delivering the first set of reforms published in the Advancing self-determination in DTF in May 2020, the Taskforce has undertaken a series of workshops to progress new plans.

DTF’s next steps involve preparing a longer-term plan for promoting self-determination and expanding the Taskforce’s scope to include the Department’s preparations for treaty. Key focuses of the long-term plan will include budget reform, cultural safety and how the Department can support improved outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

Cultural Safety Framework

DFFH is responsible for the implementation of the Cultural Safety Framework in health and community services across the state. The framework was developed in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and provides a continuous quality improvement model to strengthen the cultural safety of individuals and organisations. Cultural safety has been embedded systemically by the former Department of Health and Human Services into hospitals’ Statements of Priorities, Human Service Standards, Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients reforms and the Child Safe Standards. The department has also included guidelines for reporting racism within the department’s Positive and Fair Workplaces Policy and redesigned the department’s peer support model to better deliver tailored supports for Aboriginal staff. The department has released the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Guidelines for funded agencies on how to apply the framework in the service sector.

Priority reform 4: Shared access to data and information at a regional level

Outcome: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.

Target: Increase the number of regional data projects to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make decisions about closing the gap and their development.

Increasing Aboriginal ownership and control of data is a key enabler of self-determination. Aboriginal data sovereignty recognises that Aboriginal communities and organisations should have governance, choice and control over data collected from and about their communities, and have ready access to data and data analytics capacity necessary to support strong organisational governance and service planning.

When Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are adequately resourced and supported to undertake this work, it strengthens Aboriginal advocacy, sector and local level service planning. Open, transparent and meaningful data that is disaggregated at the local and regional level is essential to ensure that service responses reflect local needs and that all stakeholders are accountable. It tells us what is working and where further action is needed.

Sharing data that is locally relevant demonstrates that the Victorian Government is working towards a true partnership approach. Ensuring data sovereignty means Aboriginal community-controlled organisations have the information they need to make decision about the communities they serve. The State as an entity has historically controlled and monitored Aboriginal data. In working towards a partnership approach, Victoria recognises that ACCOs are best placed to hold control of data that relates to their own communities.

Partnership actions

The National Agreement commits all parties to work together to identify up to six locations across Australia for local data projects intended to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to analyse and use local and regional data to drive tailored closing the gap responses.

The Victorian Government will pursue local data projects tailored to reflect Victoria’s unique jurisdictional experience. Locally relevant data will help to identify the differing needs and experiences between Aboriginal people in metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Victoria recognises the collection of data must be done in a culturally appropriate way which empowers the ACCO sector to utilise their own data to make their own decisions. This can be ensured through leveraging technical and community expertise to conduct research, whilst ensuring adequate resourcing and capacity for ACCOs to partake in data collection and reporting against closing the gap targets.

Jurisdictional actions

To advance Aboriginal ownership and control of data, the Victorian Government will:

  • develop modelling of the trajectories for each target alongside the anticipated year when parity will be achieved. This will include agreeing defined regions for disaggregation of data and the minimum data sets available for each region and will utilise the VACCA/AEC/SVA work on service demand modelling as a starting point
  • review and consider the case for more ambitious closing the gap Targets or additional targets where Victoria is on track to achieve any closing the gap Targets in advance of 2031
  • identify potential indicators and measures to support future reporting against VAAF/CtG, with an emphasis on exploring opportunities for the inclusion of more culturally specific indicators, for example ASQTrak
  • undertake longer-term work on qualitative work against VAAF Self-Determination Enablers and the closing the gap Objectives and Outcomes (National Agreement Clause 3) and Transformational Elements (National Agreement Clause 59)

Victoria will develop modelling of the trajectories for each target alongside the anticipated year when parity will be achieved. The Victorian Government will also support access to ACCO/Aboriginal led, strength-based data measures, as well as considering ways to improve local and regional control over data.

Victoria will also undertake a mid-term review of the VAAF (and by extension, the VGAAR) to ensure it is aligned with the closing the gap targets. This will allow a greater degree of aspiration to be built into Victoria’s closing the gap targets as there many instances where the VAAF measures are more ambitious than those outlined in the National Agreement. The mid-term review will also ensure more baseline data is collected for VAAF measures than those that are currently not reported on (for example, life expectancy) to inform government and community decision-making.

Aboriginal Data Sovereignty

Victoria will implement existing data sovereignty commitments agreed between the AEC/SLG including:

  • departments to develop sector wide data access and data sharing agreements with and for ACCOs and Traditional Owner Corporations in their sector (local, statewide and peak) with advice and input from the appropriate Aboriginal governance mechanism
  • departments to prioritise additional investment in ACCO data management and analytics as a core function of ACCOS and Traditional Owner Corporations and collaboratively develop options to properly resource this function through allocations from departmental funding programs and through the annual budget process.

Victoria will also actively pursue the Data and Information sharing elements specified under the National Agreement (Clause 71); including as follows:

  • ensuring there are partnerships in place between ACCOs and government organisations to guide the improved collection, access, management and use of data to improve shared decision making
  • providing ACCOs with the same data and information on which decisions are made
  • collecting, managing and disaggregating data in an accessible and timely way to empower ACCOs and Aboriginal communities to use data for local decision making
  • supporting and resourcing ACCOS and Aboriginal communities to build capacity and expertise in data collection, management, and analysis.

Targets and outcomes

The National Agreement sets out 17 national socio-economic targets across areas that have an impact on life outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Overview of targets

In addition, the VAAF, as Victoria’s overarching framework for Aboriginal affairs, includes 111 measures developed after extensive community consultation. It commits Victoria to achieving 11 key outcomes across cultural safety, service or system access and equity. The VAAF recognises that to achieve positive outcomes, we must fundamentally change the way governments work with Aboriginal people.

These existing outcomes paired with the socio-economic targets under the National Agreement bring together a comprehensive set of data that can help community hold government to account on whether our combined efforts are having an impact. These targets cut across key domains including culture, health and wellbeing, justice, learning and family.

The Victorian Government recognises that these targets set out the minimum level of ambition to be achieved through the National Agreement and commits to the achievement of equity against all measures and outcomes in the VAAF. Our actions will also embed a specific focus on cohorts facing multiple barriers to achieving equitable outcomes, including Aboriginal Elders, young people, LQBTQI+ people, and people with disability. Victoria is exploring, in partnership with our Implementation Partners and key stakeholders, options to address key gaps in the National Agreement such as disability.

While the National Agreement aims for nationally consistent outcomes, the approach and appropriate method for achieving those outcomes will depend on the unique context of each jurisdiction. The commitments under the National Agreement provide a baseline level for targets and a partnership approach. Victoria’s broader self-determination agenda seeks to move beyond partnership and towards co-ownership and a transfer of decision-making and resource control. In Victoria, we will continue to be guided by the VAAF on more ambitious targets, as these were developed through extensive consultation with community.

To ensure these socio-economic targets are monitored, and that government remains accountable throughout the lifespan of the National Agreement, each outcome and the associated targets will be allocated to existing Aboriginal governance forums for monitoring and review throughout the life of the National Agreement. Allocating targets to existing governance forums will ensure sector-specific experts can oversee issues, actions and outcomes and adapt as necessary. It also minimises governance burden, by utilising existing forums and limiting duplication.

In addition, we will continue to report on progress under the VAAF via the VGAAR, which will be integrated with reporting on the National Agreement.


Further actions

Further actions and outcome areas, local implementation and commitments in the National Agreement.

This section includes further actions that do not fall within the scope of specific targets or priority reform areas related to the overall success of the National Agreement. This includes through focussing on resourcing for the ACCO sector that will create sustainable change.

Cross-cutting outcome areas

Victoria commits to the following actions to advance cross-cutting outcomes:

  • Build broader public awareness of the Victorian Governments partnership on Closing the Gap, with specific actions to be developed in consultation with Victoria’s Implementation Partners.
  • Develop a robust communications plan developed in consultation with Victoria’s Implementation Partners, which focuses on shifting the narrative of past failures to one of progress and hope.
  • Establish an Aboriginal community disaster management strategy in alignment with clause 64 of the National Agreement.
  • Embedding shared decision making and transparency of Closing the Gap funding at both a State and Commonwealth level.
  • As part of accountability and transparency arrangements annual statements on outlays that support Closing the Gap will be prepared as part of the State Budget.
  • Proceeding with a focused review of the Financial Management Act 1994 (Vic) as recommended by the Aboriginal Funding Reform Pilot Project Report.

Further cross-cutting actions

The Victorian Aboriginal community is diverse in its needs, experiences, and life trajectories – meaning this Plan needs to capture cross-cutting areas of concern and action in our state. Through responding to and capturing cross-cutting outcome areas, Victoria can ensure that all Aboriginal people are experiencing better life outcomes across these targets.

The following goals from the VAAF have been identified as of particular importance in addressing cross-cutting issues and challenges:

Goal 9: Strong Aboriginal workforce participation, in all sectors and at all levels

Objective 9.3 Increase workforce participation for Aboriginal young people, people with a disability and people living in regional areas

Fully participating in the economy provides Aboriginal Victorians with the resources they need to determine the future they want. Economic participation is therefore key to Aboriginal self‑determination. Building work opportunities for Victorian Aboriginal young people, women, people living with a disability and those in regional areas is key to inclusive economic growth. Greater effort is needed to ensure that all Aboriginal Victorians – in all levels, across all sectors – are better represented.

Aboriginal staff bring unique knowledge, skills and expertise to the workforce and understand the needs and aspirations of the Aboriginal community. Further work is required to improve the representation of Aboriginal people in the Victorian Public Service (VPS) as well as other sectors, and to enhance the quality of the workplace and career experiences of Aboriginal staff.

Goal 11: Aboriginal Victorians enjoy health and longevity

Objective 11.1 Improve Aboriginal health status, quality of life and life expectancy

Enjoying good health and wellbeing is fundamental. While many Aboriginal Victorians report good health and there have been areas of improvement, government, services, and communities need to take significant steps to improve health outcomes and quality of life for all Aboriginal Victorians. Improving health outcomes and having a good quality of life will ensure all Victorian Aboriginal communities can thrive.

Goal 12: Aboriginal Victorians access the services they need

Objective 12.1 Improve access to health and community services for all Aboriginal Victorians

Access to primary health care is essential for supporting equitable health outcomes. Primary health care also plays an important role in prevention and early detection.

The provision of services alone does not ensure equity of access. Ensuring all Aboriginal Victorians can access the services they need means responding to the diversity of clients’ needs. This includes promoting the voice of and providing support services to older people, people with a disability and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, and intersex (LGBTIQ+).

Aboriginal Elders hold a highly valued position in Aboriginal communities. Supporting Elders and older people to access health and community services can promote greater independence, cultural and social inclusion, and quality of life.

Aboriginal Victorians with a disability may face additional barriers to achieving health and wellbeing. Further work is required to transform the disability service system, including through the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, so that it is culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal people with a disability and their families.

The National Agreement does not commit parties to a disability outcome and associated target, leaving a significant gap for bettering the outcomes of First Nations people living with a disability. The Victorian Government will prioritise this work through the development of a Sector Strengthening Plan for the disability community-controlled sector as part of action under Priority reform 2. Additional consideration for how the disability sector can be strengthened will be considered through alignment with existing VAAF measures.

Local, regional implementation

Victoria has a strong history of successful localised, place-based projects and implementation. This plan will be effectively implemented across local, regional, and remote locations through existing regional governance forums.

As outlined within this Plan, socioeconomic outcomes will be allocated to relevant existing governance forums, which include local, regional and remote cohorts and organisations. These localised committees will be responsible for the effective implementation, monitoring and reporting of progress against the outcomes, targets, and existing commitments within the National Agreements.

Victoria will continue its commitments to effective implementation through:

Place-based partnerships

The National Agreement commits all parties to work together to identify up to six locations across Australia for local place-based partnerships intended to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to achieve local outcomes under Closing the Gap. The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions is responsible for work to identify possible Victorian sites for local projects for possible inclusion in the six locations. Any proposed Victorian sites for inclusion in the six locations will be recommended on the advice of the AEC/Secretaries Leadership Group on Aboriginal Affairs, Victoria’s Implementation Partners, participating Aboriginal communities and local ACCOs.

Local Aboriginal COVID-19 Response Networks

The Victorian Government is worked with local Aboriginal communities to establish Local Aboriginal COVID-19 Response Networks (Networks) at the height of the pandemic. The Networks were a platform where community members and organisations could access and share information about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts; seek referral points; raise systemic issues and risks directly to government; and identify gaps in the mainstream and Aboriginal-specific COVID-19 response. Consideration will be given to how best utilise these networks to support local and regional engagement on Closing the Gap.

Commitments in the National Agreement

Victoria is committed to ensuring effective and meaningful implementation across local, regional, and remote communities within Victoria. This will ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the state.

Victoria will also complete the follow actions, as per commitments under the National Agreement:

Data development plan

  • Collaborate with other parties to the National Agreement to establish a data development plan for data development actions identified in Appendix A, for endorsement by Joint Council within 2 years of this Agreement commencing

Joint communications strategy

  • Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take ownership of this Agreement
  • build awareness and ownership of the Agreement to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to talk to governments on how to apply the commitments under the Agreement to communities and organisations across the country
  • Ensure a central role for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media, in particular community-controlled media, including the promotion and distribution of material and information across a range of mediums to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as to other Australians.

How this implementation plan will work in practice

The commitments under the National Agreement will produce real-life impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Victoria.

It is therefore important to ensure this document can evolve and adapt to changes happening across Victoria, Australia, or the world.

This plan is a living document, which will regularly be subject to review, adaptation and reform as we continue a journey towards equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Changes to this Implementation Plan

This Implementation Plan will be reviewed by 2023, as will the VAAF. Following the initial three years, it will be subject to a review and analysis of outcomes as identified in the relevant VGAAR reports. Amendments, additional actions, and priority reform sectors will be updated to reflect these changes.

This Implementation Plan may also change in the case of a significant event such as COVID-19 which may require further emergency responses or adaptation to ensure the outcome of equity is still achieved.

Any changes to this Implementation Plan will be done in partnership with the Victoria’s Implementation Partners.

Annual reporting

Each year, the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report provides a chance to consider how we've tracked against our commitment to improving outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians as measured against the VAAF. Victoria will embed the outcomes under the National Agreement through this pre-existing reporting mechanism. It’s also an important opportunity to recognise the achievements and strengths of Victorian Aboriginal communities.

In accordance with Victoria’s commitments under the National Agreement, the VGAAR complies with all relevant requirements (cl118), including:

Inclusion of data from the Closing the Gap dashboard and annual Productivity Commission data compilation report

In addition to reporting against the 111 data measures included in the VAAF, the VGAAR will also include reporting on Closing the Gap measures from 2021 onwards. This data will be drawn from the dashboard and annual Productivity Commission data compilation report to ensure consistency of measures of progress.

Reporting on the National Agreement’s 4 priority reform areas

The VGAAR already reports on existing action by the Victorian Government to reform systems, structures, and service delivery to advance Aboriginal self-determination. This includes information on departmental and whole of government action to embed the four VAAF self-determination enablers: Prioritise culture, address trauma and support healing, address racism and support cultural safety, and transfer power and resources to communities. In addition to this, from 2021, reporting will also include information on efforts to implement the four Priority Reform areas, particularly outlining how implementation aligns with the National Agreement’s principles for action.

Demonstrating alignment of efforts, investment, and actions to support achievement of Closing the Gap goals

The VGAAR currently includes a range of reporting approaches to demonstrate how efforts, investment and actions are aligned and support VAAF outcomes. This includes data presentation and analysis, case studies, information on Victorian Government investment and annual action across each of the VAAF domains. From 2021, these approaches will also be used to demonstrate efforts, investment, and actions to support achievement of Closing the Gap goals.

Information on funding to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs) and other Aboriginal organisations

Where appropriate, the VGAAR will include additional information on funding to ACCOs and other Aboriginal organisations from 2021 onwards. This will include information listing the number of ACCOs and other Aboriginal organisations that have been allocated for the purposes of Clause 24, 55a and 55b, and 135 of the National Agreement, and subject to confidentiality requirements, also lists the names of the organisations and amount allocated.


Victoria’s Implementation Partners will provide oversight and sector-specific direction into the implementation of Victoria’s commitments under the National Agreement. Furthermore, existing Aboriginal partnership forums will be assigned accountability over specific National Agreement targets.

In addition, the Victorian Government commits to undertaking further engagement, in partnership with Victoria’s Implementation Partners, with the full spectrum of ACCOs in Victoria and ensuring that they are empowered with information on how they can leverage the National Agreement at the local and regional level, and provide opportunities to recommend Closing the Gap-related priorities for the annual State Budget process.

Victoria will also consider how to embed consideration of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap within state budget processes.

The AEC currently review the VGAAR and provide feedback, assessment, and priorities for the Victorian government to focus on for the following 12 months – this process will now encompass the outcomes under the National Agreement.

Victoria also established an inter-departmental working group to develop this Implementation Plan, which is chaired by both the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Implementation Partners, with membership consisting of all Victorian Government departments, Local Government representatives and the National Indigenous Australians Agency. This working group will pivot to provide a monitoring and evaluation role through which annual progress reports, feedback from Joint Council and any outcomes from the Productivity Commission and Indigenous-led reviews will be considered.

Communicating about this implementation plan

The VAAF is a community developed and owned resource, which empowers Aboriginal communities to understand their needs and outcomes. Likewise, Victoria believes that both the National Agreement and this Implementation Plan should be owned by the Victorian Aboriginal community. To ensure the Victorian Aboriginal community maintains ownership and connection to this Implementation Plan, Victoria will engage with Aboriginal-led media and communication organisations to develop an in-depth engagement and communication plan which ensures this plan, and the commitments within it, are visible and accessible to the wider Aboriginal community.

Meeting our commitments

Victoria has met, as per our commitments to the National Agreement, the following criteria:

As per the National Agreement, jurisdictional Implementation Plans will: Checked
Be fully aligned with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and state that their purpose is to implement the Agreement (cl96). X
Respond to the differing needs, priorities and circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia (cl96). X
Demonstrate a commitment to undertake all actions in a way that takes full account of, promotes, and does not diminish in any way, the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (cl21 and cl107). X
Be whole-of-government plans, covering government agencies and statutory bodies (cl108). X
Be developed and delivered in partnership between governments, the Coalition of Peaks, and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners (cl108). X
Set out how existing policies and programs will be aligned to the Agreement (cl104 and cl108). X
Set out actions to achieve the Priority Reforms and partnership actions (cl108). X
Set out actions to achieve the agreed outcomes and targets (cl108). X
For transparency, include information on funding and timeframes for actions (cl108). X
Include the approach to annual reporting, including when they will release their public report (cl108). X
Include information on how the states and territories will work with local government to implement this Agreement (state and territory Implementation Plans only) (cl108). X
Include data development actions identified in the Data Development Plan (cl106). X
Be published on the jurisdiction's website (cl111). X

Action list

The Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan Appendix A