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New ANZSOG Case Library cases explore Closing the Gap, Victorian Treaty process

20 December 2022

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Infographic on the Partnership Agreement and National Agreement on Closing the Gap

Two new cases in ANZSOG’s John L. Alford Case Library explore two key issues in Australian Indigenous public administration and the long-term value of incorporating the voices of First Nations in policy-making.

The first looks at the process and debate behind the Closing the Gap refresh, explores how Indigenous communities and Australian governments reframed Closing the Gap to improve upon its predecessor by drawing on the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples involved in negotiations over the refresh. It demonstrates that When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are included and have a say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, better outcomes are achieved.

It demonstrates that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are included and have a say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, better outcomes are achieved, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be at the centre of the Closing the Gap policy because the gap will not close without their full involvement. Consultation with Indigenous communities and representatives takes time. Governments cannot rush such a process, but incorporating Indigenous peoples’ voices in policy design is a precondition to improving outcomes, but it will not by itself lead to that result.

The second examines the development of Victoria’s Treaty process and the slow and deliberate steps taken by the Victorian government as it listened to First Nations communities and built community support and the institutional architecture necessary for treaty talks. Victoria’s Treaty process began in 2016 and has involved consultation with First Peoples of Victoria and the establishment of a First Peoples’ Assembly to represent different views on Treaty.

Treaties are accepted around the world as a means of resolving differences between Indigenous peoples and those who have colonised their lands. They have been reached in the United States and Aotearoa New Zealand, are still being negotiated in Canada today. In contrast, no formal treaty has ever been signed in Australia despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples calling for a treaty for generations.

This case study explores the slow and deliberate steps taken by the Victorian government as it listened to First Nations communities and built community support and the institutional architecture necessary for treaty talks. Key lessons from Victoria’s experience will help inform other states and territories which have since begun their own treaty processes.

Key lessons from Victoria’s experience will help inform other states and territories which have since begun their own treaty processes.

ANZSOG’s John L. Alford Case Library is a resource for teachers of public policy, with hundreds of detailed teaching cases based on real-world policies and programs in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Both cases were written by Harry Hobbs, Senior Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Law, and Dani Larkin, Lecturer, University of New South Wales, Nura Gili and Deputy Director of the Indigenous Law Centre. These cases are freely available to public servants and teachers or students of public administration, and we hope that they will be used to stimulate discussion about these issues. More First Nations-based resources are available through ANZSOG’s Wise Practice collection.