Government targets Indigenous policies

The government has asked the Productivity Commission to lay the ground for an across-the-board evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and policies.

Romlie Mokak

The strategy will help work out what’s working and what isn’t, and  ensure funds are being properly spent and delivering value for money.

The commission says despite years of policies and programs aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, little is known about the impact they are having.

“Regrettably, the evaluation of policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has often been, at best, an afterthought or not done at all,” it says.

The commission on June 3 released a draft strategy and a five-year timeline for an evaluation framework to be used by government agencies.

Putting Indigenous Australians at the centre

The document, which is open for submission until August 3, puts Indigenous Australians at the centre, says Commissioner Romlie Mokak.

Mr Mokak, a Djugun man and member of the Yawuru people, says policies and programs for Indigenous Australians are not working as they need to.

“A big part of the problem is that there is little evidence about what’s working what isn’t where and for whom,” he said.

“This strategy puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders right at its very centre.”

New office for Indigenous policy evaluation

The draft strategy recommends establishing a new Office of Indigenous Policy Evaluation (OIPE) to oversee the strategy and advise government.

The new office would sit within an independent government statutory authority.

The Productivity Commission also recommends the establishment within the OIPE of an Indigenous Evaluation Council (the Council) made up of a majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.

The council would provide strategic guidance on evaluation planning, cultural safety, compliance and engagement of indigenous people and communities.

Together with these new bodies the commission recommends that the government evaluates and reports on Indigenous policy across the APS.

Priority areas should include health, education, housing, workforce participation and racism.

A final report on the evaluation strategy will be delivered to the government by October.

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