NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : $6 Billion dollar funding debate , Hard evidence necessary to lift Indigenous welfare

 

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“Rhetoric about closing the gap and advocacy for various Indigenous programs cannot paper over such a gaping hole in governance. It’s no surprise that public policy debates — not only in Indigenous affairs but also in areas such as health and education — are so impoverished.”

The Australia Editorial 24 August

“The CIS report contained “factual errors” in its analysis of projected federal government indigenous affairs spending, which he said was focused on delivering outcomes and ensures service providers are delivering results that meet the needs of local communities”.

The Australian government has built a better evidence base for the assessment and monitoring of grants,We are placing a strong focus on quantitative evidence

“If resources are being wasted or misspent, that needs to be challenged … there is no doubt that funds are not always being targeted to the community and to the areas of need, and that there have been drastic funding cuts to key frontline areas, such as legal services and early childhood education.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion

I’m willing to work with Minister Scullion to identify improvements on a co-operative basis, but let’s not pretend that the answer is to cut funding; the government needs to genuinely listen to ­indigenous people about what ­communities need.

“If resources are being wasted or misspent, that needs to be challenged … there is no doubt that funds are not always being targeted to the community and to the areas of need, and that there have been drastic funding cuts to key frontline areas, such as legal services and early childhood education.”

The criticism came as West Australian Labor senator Patrick Dodson called for “a clear emphasis on rigorous evaluation so money is being spent wisely

Senator Patrick Dodson see article 2 below

Hard evidence necessary to lift indigenous welfare

The Australian Editorial

Almost $6 billion is spent each year on indigenous affairs but there is precious little evidence this money is doing any good. If you Google “closing the gap”, you’ll find hard data on, say, differences in longevity and literacy between black and white.

But there is no counterpart dataset on the successes and failures of the legion of spending programs aimed at indigenous welfare. It’s possible to say whether the gap is narrowing but not to distinguish between programs that represent a good investment and those that fail to achieve their goal.

Less than 10 per cent of 1082 such programs have ever been evaluated, according to a Centre for Independent Studies analysis that we reported yesterday. Of the 88 evaluations carried out, very few employed methods that could provide evidence of effectiveness.

Taking into account federal, state and territory government spending, as well as programs of the indigenous not-for-profit sector, the CIS verdict applies to annual expenditure of $5.9bn. That figure does not include the non-indigenous not-for-profit sector, such as universities. The cumulative total spent across the past several decades — a period in which some key indicators of indigenous welfare have gone backwards — represents a massive amount of money and a huge opportunity cost.

Rhetoric about closing the gap and advocacy for various Indigenous programs cannot paper over such a gaping hole in governance. It’s no surprise that public policy debates — not only in indigenous affairs but also in areas such as health and education — are so impoverished.

Too often the focus is on the amount being spent and whether it represents a cut or an increase, not an empirical analysis of outcomes attributable to particular programs. Duplication of programs also needs close attention. In the West Australian town of Roebourne, with a population of 1150, the CIS study documented 67 local service providers and more than 400 state and federal funded programs on offer.

Poor targeting of programs was another nagging problem. The CIS points out that most indigenous affairs policy fails to distinguish between markedly different sectors of indigenous Australia. Some 65 per cent of indigenous people had jobs and lives similar to other Australians; the obvious question is whether indigenous-specific spending on this sector amounts to middle-class welfare.

The neediest sector was those dependent on welfare and living on indigenous land where work and education opportunities were scarce. This profile represents only 13 per cent of indigenous Australia, or 70,000 people. There may be a case for diverting some funds to those in most need, assuming this is done through a program open to rigorous evaluation. The basic lesson is that spending itself is not a solution. With modest resources Noel Pearson’s Cape York Academy is achieving outcomes that state-run schooling could not.

The CIS report is a wake-up call. It makes sense to suggest that an evaluation be funded and built in as part of each and every program. It also makes sense for the commonwealth to show the way; it is the single biggest spender. Australia needs an indigenous affairs minister equal to the challenges of the portfolio. To date, Nigel Scullion has not inspired confidence as minister. It’s not just his clueless response to the Don Dale youth detention story. He gives no impression that he is seized of the serious subject matter of his ministry. What’s at stake is not only taxpayers’ money but also the chance to discover how to get good outcomes in indigenous affairs — which programs help people and which fail them.

Lack of facts on indigenous funding outrageous

The lack of accountability for indigenous program funding is “outrageous” and the awarding of contracts often appears politically motivated, prime ministerial ­adviser Warren Mundine says.

Mr Mundine, who chairs the Prime Minister’s Indigenous ­Advisory Council, said he had often been frustrated by a lack of detail and data since taking up to the role in 2014. “I asked for data when I first came into the job but it’s been very hard to get,” he said in response to a Centre for Independent Studies report that found a lack of proper evaluation in the $5.9 billion indigenous ­affairs sector.

“It’s a joke. I believe some programs are funded because of politics, others don’t have any evaluations. A lot of this stuff is politically motivated in the awarding of contracts.”

The criticism came as West Australian Labor senator Patrick Dodson called for “a clear emphasis on rigorous evaluation so money is being spent wisely. If resources are being wasted or misspent, that needs to be challenged … there is no doubt that funds are not always being targeted to the community and to the areas of need, and that there have been drastic funding cuts to key frontline areas, such as legal services and early childhood education.”

The CIS report, by researcher Sara Hudson, found that an in­adequate focus on outcomes in indigenous affairs spending meant “too many programs are implemented because of their perceived benefit, rather than a rigorous ­assessment of a priori evidence”.

It examined 49 federal government programs, 236 state and territory programs and 797 programs delivered by non-government groups (though many of these were partly or fully funded by government). It found that just 8 per cent had been evaluated, and that even of these, “few used methods that actually provided evidence of the program’s effectiveness”.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion last night claimed the CIS report contained “factual errors” in its analysis of projected federal government indigenous affairs spending, which he said was “focused on delivering outcomes and ensures service providers are delivering results that meet the needs of local communities”.

“The Australian government has built a better evidence base for the assessment and monitoring of grants,” Senator Scullion said through a spokesman. “We are placing a strong focus on quantitative evidence. An example of this is that we now analyse data on school attendance for Remote School Attendance Strategy schools every week.”

The government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which ­accounts for $4.9bn in spending over four years, came in for criticism this year from a Senate committee which found its use of competitive tendering policies had disadvantaged some indigenous funding applicants, and short-term spending on programs had limited their effectiveness.

It has also been criticised for being a process which saw $500 million cut from the indigenous affairs budget although the government disputes this figure.

Senator Dodson said he was “willing to work with Minister Scullion to identify improvements on a co-operative basis, but let’s not pretend that the answer is to cut funding; the government needs to genuinely listen to ­indigenous people about what ­communities need.”

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : $6 Billion dollar funding debate , Hard evidence necessary to lift Indigenous welfare

  1. Very interesting I shared information in regards to this issue with someone not so long ago when I discovered the “Smoke and Mirror Funding Factor” it’s a Joke and those responsible Know exactly who they are and as far as being accountable… Well that’s never going to happen because no one takes responsibility for anything from what I’ve found If there was an award for “Getting Creative with Their Professional Profiles & Flying Under The Radar because everyone thinks we’re The Greatest”, it would have to go to those white-ants that have suggested for the Past 15yrs How important their Research Funding For Aboriginal Health and Tobacco harm reduction is….. Last Time I checked 10 minutes ago… Any kind of significant improvement or intervention to improve “Close The Gap”, Seems to be “WORK IN PROGRESS”.. The figures I worked out were amazing and the excuses,,, One in particular “Tracking the funding and those responsible, was impossible”…. Really c’mon pull the other one mate…
    Another “What The” I found was the statement about Funds for Indigenous being complex because of the “here it is”…”The Complex” method used, and the amount deducted for other Government Non-indigenous, “Lets be fair” the National expenses deducted first that are not accounted for as funds used for the purpose but included or Suggested to be part of the total funding for Indigenous…… Yep There’s Obviously reasons why this has been done and anyone with half a brain can see why… Some clever Richard thought it would be a great way to make it “Complex” so it was harder to track where and who was being funded and how much was being spent correctly, meanwhile back at the ranch every man and his dog is lead to believe that All indigenous people in Australia waste Billions of Dollars, Get Royalties from Mining Deals etc and should be happy…
    Yep common statements by a lot of ppl, believe what you want but its a common misconception and those responsible are fully aware and know their status enables their ability to distance themselves from the Real Issues that go on.
    It’s Not until The Nation on a holistic level start asking questions because it’s finally realized some things don’t really make a lot of sense or seem to “Add Up”.. funny that.. It’s common ground from what I can tell.
    Lets just do it, if we get caught we’ll ask for forgiveness then…
    After trying to help so many Australian’s and Improve the quality of Life for indigenous and non include TS-Islanders etc and having no Luck “getting through to the Ministers for Health” because of their Biased views siding with Some “unmentionables”, Its easy to see why there’s so many issues in this area of importance, Closing The Gap is like that kids song, you know the one on TV? It’s The Song That Never Ends, The One That goes On and On because it’s the One That Never Ends….
    Hopefully I can get someone to listen and actually Understand how important my plans are for Indigenous development and really see the significant impact they will have across Oz.
    Time will tell,Lets see who’s interested in listening to someone driven to change peoples lives having lost loved ones due to unfortunate health circumstances.
    I’m here to make a difference, and have been working in the background to develop my strategies since 2009.
    It’s Time To Make it Happen.

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