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Media Release: FPDN’s Response to the Productivity Commission’s Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap: Final Report

By February 9, 2024No Comments


The Productivity Commission has publicly released its review on Government progress under the National Closing the Gap Agreement (the Review).

FPDN welcomes the thoroughness of the Productivity Commission’s research and investigations.

FPDN would like to thank the Presiding Commissioners, Natalie Siegel-Brown and Romlie Mokak, for their commitment to truth-telling and elevating First Nations perspectives.

The Review has observed that state and federal governments are not fully honouring the many commitments that were made to First Nations people under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement).

Most governments have not undergone the substantial transformation required to ‘business-as-usual’ processes to embed First Nations ways of being and doing or facilitating true self-determination through genuine shared decision-making.

The Review is an important step forward on the journey towards implementing the National Agreement and ultimately Closing the Gap.

FPDN urges all governments to embrace all recommendations and essential actions contained within the Review.

But the perspectives of First Nations people with disability must be considered to inform the changes needed that appropriately reflect cultural models of inclusion.  Our cultural models of inclusion could drive the reforms for all.

Given the high prevalence of disability, the National Agreement’s socio-economic targets and priority reforms will not be achieved unless they are

  • Accessible
  • Equitable and
  • Inclusive of First Nations people with disability.

Failure to include the distinct perspectives, strengths, challenges and lived experiences of First Nations people with disability will, not only undermine our right to self-determination, but maintain the intersectional barriers of discrimination our community is tirelessly working to overcome.

The Review highlights that “A greater focus on disability is needed”, affirming FPDNs long-held concerns that disability is often treated as ‘an afterthought’ across First Nations policy and programs.

The unique intersection of living as a First Nations person with disability can affect anyone at any age across all aspects of life.

Piecemeal efforts to address the intersectional disadvantage and discrimination faced by First Nations people with disability, limited specifically to the NDIS or health care sector will not result in the comprehensive and coordinated change we need.

These traditionally siloed approaches do not address many key inequalities faced by First Nations people with disability such as

  • Over-incarceration
  • Indefinite detention and
  • Equal participation in education and the economy.

FPDN values the unique opportunity all governments’ commitments to both the National Agreement and Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 could offer to break these siloed approaches down.  For more information see our animation.

FPDN has long advocated for and included in our Submission to the Review the need to:

‘Establish a shared decision-making policy partnership or forum, led by First Peoples Disability Network. The partnership is to be resourced appropriately to enable equal participation in the partnership by FPDN and other participants with government’.

First Nations people with disability do not just need a seat at the table, we need our own table, enabling our self-determination and driving reform across all areas that matter to us.

This is consistent with Recommendations 9.10 – 9.13 of the Disability Royal Commission and Action 20.4 of the NDIS Review.

If meaningful and positive outcomes are to be achieved our table needs to be developed in legitimate collaboration with First Nations people with disability, our communities, peak and service organisation.