” Evaluation at the contract, program and outcome level will ensure we not only know where the money is being spent, but we will know what works and why.
“This is important for the government and taxpayers, but more important for communities in whose name the money is spent.
“It will also mean we will be better able to assess where our investment needs to be focused in the future — and ensure the IAS continues to deliver outcomes for indigenous communities.”
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion
The Turnbull government will spend $40 million evaluating its indigenous affairs programs in an attempt to counter a national audit office report expected to be harshly critical of the way billions of dollars have been allocated.
Sidelined prime ministerial indigenous adviser Warren Mundine said yesterday the report, to be tabled today, was expected to be “damning”, as was the official Closing the Gap report due within days.
The audit office report follows a Senate inquiry last year that blasted the 2014 implementation of the Abbott government’s flagship multi-billion-dollar Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
A 2015 Productivity Commission report found there was insufficient evidence being collected about the outcomes of indigenous programs and that “formal rigorous evaluations of indigenous programs that set the benefits of particular policies for reducing disadvantage against the costs are relatively scarce”.
Spending on mainstream and indigenous-specific programs and services has been estimated by the government to be worth $30 billion. A Centre for Independent Studies report last year found only 8 per cent of 1082 indigenous-specific programs, worth $5.9bn, had been effectively evaluated.
However, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, who will announce the four-year evaluation program today, said reporting, monitoring and evaluation of the IAS had already been improved, and accounting for how much was being spent in the portfolio was now possible.
“However, we need to continually build on this and further strengthen the evaluation of our investment to ensure that money allocated through the IAS is invested in ways that make the greatest difference for our first Australians,” Senator Scullion said. “By establishing a multi-year funding allocation, we are ensuring there will be a long-term plan for evaluation and a formal strategy to monitor and review how individual contracts and program streams are contributing to our efforts to deliver better outcomes for indigenous Australians.
Senator Scullion said the evaluation would be rolled out in close consultation with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, including indigenous-run firms. “Indigenous-run companies are currently delivering rigorous evaluation for the government and this new framework will continue this partnership,” he said.