CANBERRA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Australian governments have reached an agreement on reducing the disadvantage faced by the nation's Indigenous people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that the federal, state and territory governments have signed up to a new Closing the Gap agreement, which sets 16 socio-economic targets to track progress.
The targets include moving 15 percent of Indigenous adults out of prison by 2031, having 70 percent of young Indigenous people hold a tertiary qualification by 2031, increasing the use of Indigenous languages and improving land rights for Indigenous people.
"Today finally marks a new chapter in our efforts to close the gap, one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect," Morrison said.
"The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be.
"This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility."
It comes after years of failing to meet the original Closing the Gap targets, which were set in 2008.
The most recent Closing the Gap report, which was released in February, found that only two of the program's seven targets, in early childhood education and secondary school completion rates, were on track.
Targets for school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy were not on track.
Ken Wyatt, the first Indigenous person to serve as Australia's Minister for Indigenous Affairs, said that the new partnership between governments and Indigenous organizations were unprecedented.
"The way all levels of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have come together to negotiate this National Agreement and collectively determine how we strive to close the gap demonstrates our commitment to working together through meaningful partnerships," he said.
"We know that the best outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are equal partners with governments, and when they have a direct say in how we are going to be successful in driving the desired outcomes."
A new joint council co-chaired by Wyatt and Pat Turner, who helped design the targets as the lead convenor of the coalition of Indigenous organizations, will oversee implementation of the new targets.
"For the first time, First Nations people will share decision-making with governments on Closing the Gap," Turner said.
"If the Priority Reforms are implemented in full by governments and through shared decision making with First Nations people, we should see changes over time to the lives and experiences of our people." Enditem