The release of the Closing the Gap review yesterday by the Productivity Commission marked an important moment in Australia’s ongoing journey towards achieving equality for Indigenous Australians.

Its key message is that fundamental changes are required to deliver on the Agreement.

The report reveals that progress in implementing Priority Reform 4 has been limited.  This reform commits governments to overhaul the way they handle and utilise data in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

While some government actions have focused on sharing existing data, there remains a significant gap in valuing Indigenous perspectives on data usage and policy-making. Moreover, insufficient support for building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data capabilities poses a challenge to advancing this crucial reform.

The report underscores the importance of Indigenous Data Sovereignty (IDS) and Indigenous Data Governance (IDG) in shaping data-related policies and practices. Despite the overlap between IDS and Priority Reform 4, IDS is not explicitly mentioned in the Agreement. The Commission recommends amending the Agreement to include IDS explicitly, emphasising the need to partner with Indigenous organisations and communities to embed IDG principles into existing data systems.

The report highlights the approach to data governance under the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project in Bourke, New South Wales. This Aboriginal-led initiative focuses on addressing persistent high crime and incarceration rates by utilising detailed local data to inform decision-making.

The project has established an Indigenous data governance structure, ensuring Indigenous Data Sovereignty and leadership engagement. Centralising data requests and collection through the Palimaa Data Platform, powered by Seer Data, enhances accountability and streamlines access.

Meaningful collaboration between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, alongside a concerted effort to incorporate IDS and IDG principles, will be essential in driving progress towards closing the gap and fostering genuine reconciliation in Australia.

To read the Productivity Commission’s review in full, visit their website here.

Read more about Maranguka here.