The Coalition believes indigenous Australians deserve a better future, with more job opportunities, empowered individuals and communities, and higher standards of living.
The Coalition aims to ensure that right around Australia, children go to school, adults go to work and the ordinary law of the land is observed – in indigenous communities no less than in the general community.
The Coalition will establish a Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, to be chaired by Mr Warren Mundine. The Council will help ensure that the Indigenous programmes achieve real, positive change to the lives of Aboriginal people.
We will transfer responsibility for Indigenous programmes to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Under a Coalition government Australia will, in effect, have a Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs and a dedicated Indigenous Affairs Minister.
All Australian children, but particularly disadvantaged Indigenous children, need access to a proper education. Much more needs to be done in this area. The Coalition will work with the States and Territories to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal children.
Within 12 months of taking office, the Coalition will put forward a draft amendment for constitutional recognition and establish a bipartisan process to assess its chances of success. The key objective of a referendum will be to achieve a unifying moment for the nation, similar to that achieved by the 1967 constitutional referendum.
The Coalition will provide support for Jawun’s Empowered Communities initiative, which is a new regionalised model to be applied in eight opt-in communities. Empowered Communities will give more authority to local indigenous leaders with a view to achieving Closing the Gap targets more quickly.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will review indigenous training and employment programmes to ensure that such programmes are more effectively linked to employment outcomes. This review will be headed by Mr Andrew Forrest.
We will provide up to $45 million for GenerationOne’s demand-driven training model. This commitment, through GenerationOne’s Australian Employment Covenant, will train up to 5,000 Indigenous people for guaranteed jobs
The ANAO reports that in 2011 there were 210 Indigenous specific Australian Government programmes and sub-programmes included in its Closing the Gap activities, administered by more than 40 agencies across 17 separate portfolios, with the best estimate of expenditure totalling $4.2 billion in 2011-12.
Unfortunately, you do not have to look very closely at the Prime Minister’s recent report on Closing the Gap to conclude that Labor’s approach to Indigenous Affairs has not worked.
While a target for access to preschool programmes appears to have been met, there is no indication that Aboriginal children are availing themselves of these places. The life expectancy gap is stuck stubbornly where it was five years ago. There has been an improvement in the infant mortality rate, but the trend was established under the Howard Government as far back as 1998 and the decline in infant mortality has not accelerated under Labor. Despite all the expenditure on job programmes, unemployment remains unacceptably high. Tragically, a number of the education or NAPLAN indicators are going backwards.
Too many young Indigenous people in remote areas are not attending school and are not able to read or write at anywhere near an acceptable standard. Labor has clearly not done enough to address this.
Economic development on Aboriginal land and land tenure reform has stalled because the Labor Government has no appetite for changing the status quo. They abandoned the Indigenous Home Ownership on Indigenous Land programme because of their complete lack of progress on land tenure reform. Indigenous people in remote areas remain dependent on welfare, have no jobs, no property rights and are over run by bureaucrats; while Labor’s priority is the protection of vested interests.
They dropped the ball on the Northern Territory intervention and have replaced it with the self-serving bureaucratic Stronger Futures programme, leaving future generations condemned to a life on welfare.
The Coalition’s Policy
The failure to properly manage the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars for remote Indigenous housing under their Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure programme (SIHIP) is an absolute disgrace.
In the end, despite all the money Labor has spent, it will not have achieved its objective of reducing overcrowding in remote communities.
Labor’s failure to properly monitor and evaluate Indigenous programmes has led to chronic waste and lost opportunities, a prime example of this is the mismanagement of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure programme.
Resources meant to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians are being squandered on overlapping and inconsistent services and bloated bureaucracies that disempower local people and their communities.
The Labor Indigenous affairs landscape is littered with bureaucratic failure and incompetence. The ANAO found that the key Australian Government agency responsible for coordination arrangements for Indigenous programmes “is failing to adequately perform its lead agency role and needs to be more proactive at monitoring and reporting on expenditure.”
Labor has shown that it has not been prepared to apply the same standards and expectations for Indigenous Australians that it would apply to other Australians. Like Labor’s approach to housing, when they set targets and as usual fail to meet them they simply reduce the standard to be achieved.
The result of all this is that after more than six years and lots of money, Labor has not made sufficient inroads into Aboriginal welfare dependency, incarceration rates, overcrowding, poverty or school attendance and achievement.
The Coalition will continue the current level of funding expended on Closing the Gap activities, but will examine these costly programmes to make sure that they are directly working to meet the Closing the Gap targets.
We will take steps to ensure that the people who the programmes and services are intended to assist take advantage of those programmes and services. We would also make sure that programmes are targeted on the basis of need, not race alone, and are delivered in the most effective way possible.
Attending school is an absolute must. Opportunities for employment must be grasped. The Coalition will operate on the principle of offering a hand up rather than a hand out.
The Coalition will make sure that the same standards and the same expectations apply to Indigenous Australians as are applied to other Australians. Importantly, we would not attempt to deny local people the opportunity to solve their own problems.
The Coalition’s Policy for Indigenous Affairs will invest $94 million over the forward estimates in a better future for indigenous Australians
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