While the notion of economic equality for indigenous and other Australians has been around for decades, it was only in 2008 that it was given a precise technical reporting framework. This occurred in the aftermath of the much-lauded national apology to the stolen generations by then prime minister Kevin Rudd, which set up what would be termed the "Closing the Gap" initiative.

Closing the Gap was quickly picked up as the framework for COAG's National Indigenous Reform Agreement, which locked in billions of dollars of public funding in multi-year agreements.