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A cross-portfolio approach is needed to Close the Gap


10 November 2021 at 5:39 pm
Ros Moriarty
Recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy falls short, can Close the Gap, writes Ros Moriarty.


Ros Moriarty | 10 November 2021 at 5:39 pm


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A cross-portfolio approach is needed to Close the Gap
10 November 2021 at 5:39 pm

A change to the status quo on siloed federal government portfolios, and recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy falls short, can break the disadvantage cycle, writes Ros Moriarty, honorary managing director of Moriarty Foundation.

It is clear that only innovative solutions will shift the dial on overcoming one of Australia’s most elusive social challenges – to Close the Gap of disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience.

The successful solutions are community-led, they apply the Aboriginal worldview to everything they do, and they respond holistically and flexibly to emerging needs on the ground. This is where we are seeing breakthrough results and real progress against Closing the Gap targets. 

While they may not always make the headlines, there are Aboriginal-led initiatives across the country that are delivering every day in ways that transform lives and equip communities with a more equitable future. 

They harness the strength and beauty of culture to connect and empower. These programs are less likely to operate in policy silos than their more traditional counterparts, nor fit neatly with major government funding rules in areas like early learning, mental health, education, employment and wellbeing.

As the prime minister said in his 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan address to Parliament, “The ultimate test of our efforts is that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boy or girl can grow up with the same opportunities, in the same expectations as any other Australian child.”

To deliver on the prime minister’s intentions, greater funding flexibility and a cross-portfolio approach is needed. Recognition of the value of this shift has been under discussion in Canberra for some time, but its implementation is long overdue. 

Ironically, solutions like Moriarty Foundation’s Indi Kindi and John Moriarty Football succeed precisely because they bridge policy silos. Without a change to a cross-portfolio approach, funding solutions are unstable for community-generated innovations like these, that deliver holistically, and through the Aboriginal worldview. Which means the highly vulnerable children they reach are consequently at extreme risk of falling through the cracks because of bureaucratic inflexibility. 

A change to the status quo on siloed federal government portfolios, and recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy falls short in remote and regional communities, can break the disadvantage cycle and Close the Gap. 

The gains from rewarding innovation will be exponential.

The commitment of $1 billion under the new Closing the Gap Implementation Plan is a positive step, however we have a structural problem with siloed portfolios and rigid policies that will prevent progress because the challenges – and the solutions – are holistic and necessarily connected.  

Only when government departments have a mandate to work together to reward innovation and sustained impacts, will we see a shift in the presently dire outlook for the next generation of disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

 

About Moriarty Foundation

Moriarty Foundation is an Aboriginal-established foundation that enables Aboriginal families and communities to unlock their children’s potential. By embracing the Aboriginal worldview, its locally-led solutions are radically shifting intergenerational disadvantage. Established in 2012, Moriarty Foundation delivers two groundbreaking and interrelated community initiatives in remote and regional Australia, Indi Kindi and John Moriarty Football. 


Ros Moriarty  |  @ProBonoNews

Ros Moriarty is a business owner, social investor and author. She is managing director and co-founder of both Moriarty Foundation and Balarinji.

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