NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #IAS : Federal Government response to Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering process

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 ” The Government has carefully considered the Committee’s report and provides its response to each of the recommendations in the table below.

The Government acknowledges that the processes associated with the 2014 IAS open grant round can be improved. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) has been working methodically to address many of the issues and concerns raised in relation to the first open grant round.

The Department listened to the criticisms and concerns, and has made improvements to the IAS, and to the way the Department communicates and engages with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.”

Government response tabled in the Senate 7 November 2016

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governmentresponse

 The Government welcomes the opportunity to respond to the findings and recommendations of the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee’s (‘the Committee’) report.

Download the findings and recommendations

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The Australian Government is committed to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), the Government is investing in programmes to deliver outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the areas of education, employment, economic development, social participation, and healthy and safe homes and communities.

In the 2015-16 Budget, the Australian Government allocated $4.9 billion to the IAS, over four years to 2018-19.

This included longer term commitments already in place such as the Working on Country Programme.

The IAS is designed to manage a more strategic investment in Indigenous funding that focuses on achieving measurable outcomes and improving the way Government does business, including simpler programme arrangements with less red tape. It directs effort where it is most needed, and tailors funding to solve localised issues rather than imposing a one size fits all solution.

Before the introduction of the IAS, an inquiry as conducted by the Committee would have been extremely difficult.

The implementation of the IAS has fundamentally transformed the way Indigenous programmes are funded and managed. As a result of the open grant round, for the first time ever, a government has a clear picture about where taxpayers’ funds are being spent and which service providers are receiving that funding.

The Government has carefully considered the Committee’s report and provides its response to each of the recommendations in the table below.

The Government acknowledges that the processes associated with the 2014 IAS open grant round can be improved. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) has been working methodically to address many of the issues and concerns raised in relation to the first open grant round.

The Department listened to the criticisms and concerns, and has made improvements to the IAS, and to the way the Department communicates and engages with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders. On 21 March 2016, following consultations across the country, the Department published revised IAS Grant Guidelines. The new Guidelines are clearer for potential applicants, reduce red tape, and should result in better, more targeted service delivery on the ground.

While recognising there are improvements to be made, this is also the time to recognise the successes of the IAS and the improvements the IAS made to dysfunctional and opaque funding arrangements for Indigenous programmes administered under previous governments.

Through the 2014 IAS open grant round, over $1 billion was provided to almost one thousand organisations to deliver more than 1350 projects throughout Australia.

Indigenous organisations received the largest slice of the grant round funding—55 per cent of the total. A significant proportion of this money supports the delivery of front line services to Indigenous families and communities.

Only 1 per cent of grants under the IAS 2014 Grant Round were of less than 12 months duration indeed, nearly 80 per cent (78%) of all grants under the round were for 2 years or more. In addition only 1 per cent of all grants under the round were for small amounts of under $15,000.

Half of the funding (50%) provided under all Indigenous grants has been contracted to Indigenous organisations with the proportion of funding under the grant round going to Indigenous organisations higher at 55 per cent, this is up from 30% prior to the IAS.

Across the 5 programmes nearly half or more of the funding under all Indigenous grants has been provided to Indigenous organisations in all programmes apart from Children and Schooling.

The low proportion of funding (33%) going to Indigenous service providers under Children and Schooling partly reflects the fact that funding is sometimes provided direct to schools and universities, and that Indigenous organisations do not play a large role in some of the services supported under the IAS such as scholarship programmes. If grants under Children and Schooling are excluded then 55 per cent of all funding under the IAS has been provided to Indigenous organisations.

The Government is confident moving forward the IAS will deliver the long-term and sustainable outcomes Indigenous communities want and deserve.

The Committee’s report provided findings and recommendations that the Government will take into consideration to improve grants processes.

The Government also notes that the extended reporting period for the Committee resulted in many of the issues raised in the early stages of the Committee being responded to by the time of reporting.

This included as part of some improvements the Government introduced following the revision of the IAS Guidelines.

The revision of the guidelines included 17 public forums.

The revised guidelines were released on 21 March 2016.

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governmentresponse

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that future tender rounds are not blanket competitive processes and are underpinned by robust service planning and needs mapping.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that future tendering processes should be planned strategically, with a clear sense of service gaps and community need based on consultation with local services and communities. A tendering or alternative funding process should be conducted in a manner which enhances the capacity of organisations to meet community needs.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that future selection criteria and funding guidelines should give weighting to the contribution and effectiveness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to provide to their community beyond the service they are directly contracted to provide.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that where possible and appropriate, longer contracts be awarded to ensure stability so that organisations can plan and deliver sustainable services to their communities.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet improve its overall Indigenous Advancement Strategy communication plan to ensure that all stakeholders are fully informed and have access to clear and timely information.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the full internal review of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy process undertaken and facilitated by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet be made public.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that the Government release the revised funding guidelines as a draft for consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their organisations.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends that Government prioritise investment in capacity building and support for smaller community controlled organisations in future tender processes.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that the Government act immediately to address the 30 June 2016 funding deadline for organisations

 

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