The National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA) of 2009 was a historic agreement between the Australian Government and Indigenous Australians aimed at closing the gap between the socio-economic status of Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians.
The NIRA sought to address the systemic disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians in areas such as health, education, employment, and community safety. It consisted of six key outcome areas that aimed to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians by achieving parity with non-Indigenous Australians in these areas.
One of the key components of the NIRA was the establishment of the Closing the Gap framework. This framework set out a series of targets and indicators to measure progress towards achieving the six outcome areas of the NIRA. The targets included closing the gap in life expectancy, child mortality rates, and employment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The NIRA also recognized the importance of Indigenous people taking ownership of their own development and included commitments to support Indigenous-led initiatives. This included the establishment of the Indigenous Representative Body, which provided a platform for Indigenous Australians to engage with the government on issues affecting their communities.
Since the NIRA was established in 2009, there have been mixed results in achieving its targets. Some areas, such as education and health, have seen improvements, while others, such as employment and incarceration rates, have seen little progress.
In 2020, the Australian Government announced a revised Closing the Gap framework, which aimed to strengthen the partnership between Indigenous Australians and the government. The revised framework focused on areas such as cultural identity, land and sea management, and access to justice.
While the NIRA was a significant step forward in addressing the systemic disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians, there is still much work to be done to achieve true parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The revised Closing the Gap framework provides an opportunity to build on the progress made under the NIRA and continue the journey towards reconciliation and equality.