Melbourne, Australia: Today’s release of the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) audit update on the much-maligned Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) has unsurprisingly shown that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) is not effectively implementing the IAS.
This report has revealed what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have known from the IAS’s establishment – this strategy is deeply flawed and wholly unsuitable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people.
SNAICC CEO Gerry Moore calls on Prime Minister Turnbull to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders to get Federal policy back on track:
I encourage the Prime Minister to take this opportunity to reset the Government’s relationship with Australia’s First Peoples, and to start genuinely listening to us and respecting our right to have a say in issues that concern and affect us.”
– Gerry Moore, SNAICC CEO
As Australia’s peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, SNAICC has been deeply concerned since the inception of the IAS that it was innately discriminatory towards Indigenous people and organisations, in particular in the way it effectively defunded key peak bodies (essential for promoting Indigenous voices) and implemented an unnecessary competitive tendering process causing instability and concern for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The ANAO report reveals that the departments lack of effectiveness broadly covers all areas of the strategy including: the Department not allowing adequate time to properly implement key processes and frameworks in the programs structure (such as consultation, risk management and advice to Ministers); a lack of transitional arrangements available during the implementation period; poor grants administration processes (resulting in unclear recommendations and limited assurance that said projects achieved their outcomes).
Further, the Department did not:
- assess applications in a manner that was consistent with the guidelines and the Department’s public statements;
- meet some of its obligations under the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines;
- keep records of key decisions; or
- establish performance targets for all funded projects.
The ANAO has recommended that “The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet ensure that administrative arrangements for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy provide for the regional network to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and deliver local solutions.”