Aboriginal people from the Dubbo region are finally in the driver's seat to help Close the Gap.
The NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NSW CAPO) held an open forum in Dubbo on Friday to hear exactly what locals think needs to be done to implement five priority reforms identified to Close the Gap.
In 2020 CAPO, along with the state and federal governments signed a National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The agreement recognised that the only way to genuinely close the gap is when Aboriginal people own, commit to and drive the outcomes alongside government.
The five priority reforms include: formal partnerships with government and shared decision-making; building the community controlled sector; transforming government organisations; shared access to data and information at a regional level; and economic prosperity and employment.
For Dubbo, the meeting highlighted the need to work collaboratively in order for the reform to work, NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) chairperson Anne Dennis said.
"It's quite exciting to see Aboriginal people working together in partnership with government to really make changes around our future."
"Considering we've already had 10 years and this is the first time Aboriginal people and Aboriginal peaks have been truly represented, it's truly exciting to be able to listen to the voices of community."
The Dubbo meeting saw a good representation from the Aboriginal community, and communities as far west as Goodooga, Walgett, Wee Waa and the Pilliga.
"People really turned up and participated, and were the scribes for that meeting," Ms Dennis said.
"It's about becoming more aware of the targets and how we work together to be able to get better outcomes."
Ms Dennis said Local Aboriginal Land Councils and education consultative groups had been working together for a lifetime to build better outcomes in communities, but working with the government would help deliver better opportunities over the next 10 years.
She said one of the biggest reforms to work on and supported by the NSW government was economic prosperity, business growth and employment opportunities for people.
"I think it's important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations work closely with local government to be able to contribute and create that employment within community," she said.
"To address whether it's health issues, to put in place programs around mental health or to be able to achieve better outcomes for education and really focus on young people in that training and skills.
"Then if they choose to leave the community, they've got those skills and be able to contribute to the wider community."
Ms Dennis said over the next 12 months, they would be taking steps to build infrastructures within community and hope to work on a jurisdictional plan implemented in NSW, which would support Aboriginal people, communities and organisations in taking charge of their own lives and development for the next 10 years.
"This is really just the beginning, and we're actually looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting down and start to work together to start to achieve better outcomes right across the whole community," Ms Dennis said.