NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NAIDOC2019 News 4 of 5 : New @OzProdCom Productivity Commissioner @RMokak talks about what #NAIDOC #VoiceTreatyTruth means and invites input into a new #Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

” Implementation matters, and considering likely implementation roadblocks – such as capability and culture in agencies and service delivery organisations, data availability, and knowledge translation – will be key considerations for the strategy.

We are also encountering many positive examples from outside government of how evaluation can be used to improve decision making and program implementation.

We have much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in South East Queensland.

IUIH has been active in commissioning and conducting research and evaluation to build the evidence base on what works, and demonstrate its impact to the community and government.

Last week, we published an issues paper, which outlines some of the key questions we’d like your help to answer.”

Commissioner Romlie Mokak delivered a speech for a NAIDOC event at the Institute of Public Administration Australia in Canberra July 2019

Download 58 page Indigenous Evaluation Strategy issues paper 


Make a submission HERE

Today, I stand here on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. I am deeply grateful for the warmth and the generosity in allowing this country to be home for my family over the past 20 years. I honour your ancestors, your Elders and your young ones yet to come. I honour your sacred places and the wisdom and teachings held and shared in these places.

I aim to speak to two things today – NAIDOC and the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy.

NAIDOC theme — Voice, Treaty, Truth

This year’s NAIDOC brings into focus the theme of Voice, Treaty, Truth: let’s work together for a shared future. The NAIDOC theme, by definition, seeks for all Australians to work together to build our nation’s future. Voice, Treaty, Truth puts forward a proposition to the Australian people – not just to parliament, but to the Australian people — about a shared future.

These three elements from the Uluru Statement from the Heart speak to the call by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a greater say in their lives.

I quote:

When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish.

They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution….we seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.

NAIDOC week is a time to commemorate, as well as a time to celebrate. It is a time to remember and honour those who have come before.  To honour those who have worked tirelessly and endlessly for our benefit. NAIDOC week is a time to place our — Indigenous — knowledges, our cultures, our science, our strength, our achievements – at the centre.

NAIDOC invites you into this space – beyond raising flags, beyond exhibiting art, beyond consuming native foods. NAIDOC is not just about NAIDOC week. In fact, the spirit of NAIDOC really is about what we do during those remaining weeks of the year.

25 years in policy

This week begins my 12th week at the Productivity Commission – it is still very much early days for me.

My road to the Commission has been travelled via community, state, Commonwealth and Indigenous organisations. From beginnings in the NSW public service 25 years ago as a junior policy officer in ageing and disability. To the Commonwealth Department of Health — working in Indigenous policy and program areas such as health inequality, substance use and financing.

For the past 14 years heading up national black organisations:

  • nine as CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
  • the last five as head of the Lowitja Institute (Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Research).

The learning over these years – that those who are most invested and most impacted must not be assigned to policy render. They must also be designers, architects, builders and evaluators for impact and change.

Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

The Productivity Commission has been asked to develop a whole-of-government evaluation strategy to be used by all Australian Government agencies, for policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The project will have three main components. The commission has been asked to:

  • establish a principles-based framework for the evaluation of policies and programs
  • identify priorities for evaluation
  • set out its approach for reviewing agencies’ conduct of evaluations against the strategy.

The commission has a broad remit to recommend changes to improve the use and conduct of evaluation in Australian Government agencies. This goes beyond guiding stakeholders during the commissioning and conduct of evaluations.

The evaluation strategy should also make recommendations on how evaluation and evidence-based decision making can be embedded into policy development and program delivery. The problems with existing evaluation practice that have motivated this project are not just that evaluations have been rarely or poorly conducted, but stem from the lack of influence of evaluation practice and results on policymaking.

It is clear that the value of evaluation will be limited in the absence of strong and sustainable mechanisms to feed evaluation findings, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, perspectives and priorities, into the policymaking process.

The evaluation strategy must cover both mainstream and Indigenous-specific policies and programs if it is to properly examine those that have most impact on, or potential benefit for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We will make recommendations on how evaluation efforts should be prioritised, both within agencies and across the Australian Government.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples perspectives on what policies and outcomes matter most will be vital when identifying priorities for evaluation.

Early insights

Our project is in its early stages:

  • we will deliver a draft report in February next year
  • and a final report to government in around 12 months from now.

However early discussions around the country have provided insights into the challenges we may face when developing the strategy, and the areas where the strategy can add the most value. The dearth of evaluation of policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been well-documented. It is clear that evaluation practice in Australian Government agencies varies considerably.

Existing evaluation efforts are often narrowly focused rather than systematic, and many agencies do not publish evaluation reports in a timely manner (if at all). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and voices have been largely absent from evaluation design and conduct. Even where there has been leadership and considerable resources devoted, experience shows that changing the evaluation culture in government agencies is hard.

The then Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (now National Indigenous Australian agency) and the Department of Health are two agencies that have made inroads into better incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and priorities into their evaluation efforts.

Implementation matters, and considering likely implementation roadblocks – such as capability and culture in agencies and service delivery organisations, data availability, and knowledge translation – will be key considerations for the strategy.

We are also encountering many positive examples from outside government of how evaluation can be used to improve decision making and program implementation. We have much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in South East Queensland.

IUIH has been active in commissioning and conducting research and evaluation to build the evidence base on what works, and demonstrate its impact to the community and government.

Last week, we published an issues paper, which outlines some of the key questions we’d like your help to answer.

These include:

  • How can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, priorities and values be better integrated into policy and program evaluation?
  • What principles should guide Australian Government agencies’ evaluation efforts?
  • What should be the priority policy areas for future Australian Government evaluation efforts?
  • How can evaluation results be better used in policy and program design and implementation?
  • What ongoing role should the Productivity Commission have in monitoring agencies’ implementation of the strategy, and in evaluating policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more generally?

Further engagement

We are seeking submissions from interested parties between now and 23 August.

You can send us a written submission, make an oral submission or leave a brief comment on our website:

In the second half of the year we will be engaging widely across Australia to inform the development of the strategy. We will travel to urban, regional and remote areas, to hear from individuals, groups and organisations.

We hope to hold a series of roundtable discussions on topics related to the evaluation strategy. This will be to draw on the experience and expertise of people and organisations who have been involved in evaluation or have insights into how policy making and program implementation can be improved.

In closing

As NAIDOC’s impact must surely go well beyond a single week in July.

So to a future Indigenous Evaluation Strategy must have value in a lasting way.

I invite each and every one of you to be an active part of the discussion, debate and design to make this a reality.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Read @KenWyattMP #NPC National Press Club full speech #NAIDOC2019 #VoiceTreatyTruth #UluruStatement #ClosingtheGap

“Kaya Wangju”

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we’re meeting today, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

I also acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are present here today and those who are watching at home.

I also acknowledge: Sabra Lane and the National Press Club for inviting me to speak today.

Our cultural heritage is the essence of who we are – it shapes our thinking, our customs, our social interactions and how we see ourselves as a specific group.

Our bloodlines and our ancient song lines have provided the continuity of connections as individuals, families and communities throughout the passages of time.

This is also evident in Multicultural Australia where we see the pride of the various cultural societies reflected in their festivals and the cultural events they celebrate.

NAIDOC Week celebrates over 60,000 years of history, culture and achievements of Indigenous Australians which commences from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday each year.

The origin of NAIDOC arose from a letter Mr

William Cooper wrote on behalf of the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association, an umbrella group for a number of Aboriginal justice movements to Aboriginal communities and churches.

Each year NAIDOC is themed to give prominence to a matter of substance to create awareness and celebrate successes and is an acknowledgement of further work that has to be completed. Some of the past themes have included;

  • 2018 “Because of her, we can!”
  • 2006: “Respect the Past-Believe in the Future”

The theme for 2019 is

“Voice Treaty Truth”

Read NACCHO report HERE

The concept of the “Voice” in the Uluru Statement from the Heart is not a singular voice and what I perceive is that it is a cry to all tiers of Government to stop and listen to the voices of Indigenous Australians at all levels.

The voice is multi-layered and includes the voices of individuals, families, communities and

Indigenous organisations who want to be heard by those who make the decisions that impact on their lives.

All they want is for Governments to hear their issues, stories of their land and their local history. They are asking the three tiers of Government to stop and take the time to listen to their voices.

The development of a local, regional and national voice will be achieved.

It is my intention to work with the State and Territory Ministers to develop an approach – underpinned with existing jurisdictional Indigenous organisations and advisory structures established to provide advice to State and Territory Governments. Indigenous Australian leaders are integral to the process and will be equally involved.

The national interest requires a new relationship with Indigenous Australians based on their participation and establishing entrenched partnerships at the community and regional levels.

My Regional Managers will be required to make this happen.

I will turn to the matters of Treaty and Constitutional Recognition later.

In the address to the Welcome to Country

Ceremony, at the opening of the 46th Parliament, the Prime Minister made the following comments which I have used selectively to highlight the changing attitude of our nation.  

Here, 65,000 thousand years of Aboriginal culture meets mere centuries of Westminster tradition, which the Leader of the Opposition and I represent, being here together.

In my maiden speech to Parliament, I said that ‘a strong country is at peace with its past’. This is a work in progress. Being at peace with our past, being at one with our past. …While we reflect on how far we have to go, consider though how far we’ve come.

This year, my Government appointed Ken Wyatt as the first ever Aboriginal person to hold the  position of Minister for Indigenous Australians – and as a member of Cabinet.

The Sunday following the election was National Sorry Day, my wife Anna, read a Face Book post that the Hon Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had posted about his father Cedric Wyatt.

His father spent a large part of his life in Sister

Kates, after being born at Moore River Native Settlement.

I reflected on my mother and her siblings who had spent their early years of life in missions, separated from each other but they all remained optimistic that the future would yield better outcomes for us – their children.

My thoughts were interrupted with Anna saying

can you hang out the washing and don’t forget to take your phone with you in case the Prime Minister rings you and offers you a job”.

I was hanging up a tablecloth on the Hills hoist clothes line when the phone rang and the Prime Ministers name came up. I answered the phone with good morning Prime Minister.  I thought he might offer me my previous portfolio.

Instead he said, “I want to thank for your support for senior Australians, the Aged Care Sector and Indigenous Health. I would like to offer you the position of the Minister for Indigenous Australians.’

His statement absolutely stunned me – Not Minister for Indigenous Affairs but Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Two thoughts ran through my mind – the Prime Minister has focused on Indigenous Australians which gives a personal and human value to our people and secondly an increased scope of work – combined with his expectations of what he wants to achieve as the leader of our Government.

I choked with emotion at the honour and magnitude of the expectation that would come with being Minister for Indigenous Australians – it took me a full two minutes to answer him. In those two minutes, the emotions of our story as Indigenous Australians welled up in me. It’s hard to express what I actually felt and what it meant to me.

The Prime Minister said ‘I take it your silence means “yes”?’ Then I found my voice, and said ‘yes Prime Minister I accept.

Anna heard the phone ring and saw the expression on my face, she assumed that I had been advised of a death and so she came closer to hear whose voice it was.

She could hear the Prime Minister’s voice and she then understood that he had offered me the position of Minister for Indigenous Australians.

We both knew the enormity of the job but equally the importance of the symbolism for Australia.

We must never forget the significance of symbolism but it must be balanced with pragmatism that results in change for Indigenous Australians.

I want to acknowledge the Prime Minister’s leadership in establishing the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

With the establishment of the Agency on 1 July, we began a new era for the Government to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians. It will provide opportunities for growth and advancement in education, employment, suicide prevention, community safety, health and constitutional recognition.

There is still more to do to find local solutions to make a difference at the community level.

Historically, Indigenous Australians have been told what they’re going to get, and what’s going to happen to them, whether they like it or not.

The Agency will play a critical role in supporting me to meet the changing needs of Indigenous Australians.

I will work in partnership with State and Territory Ministers of Indigenous Affairs to progress work on the Closing the Gap targets and identify good practice and to share and celebrate successful programs and jurisdictional achievements.

We have an incredible opportunity to make a difference as leaders of the Nation if we work together on targeted priorities such as the high incarceration rates.

As I’ve said, the most important thing that I and the Agency will do is to listen – with our ears and with our eyes.

I intend to have genuine conversations, not only with Indigenous leaders and peak bodies, but with families, individuals and community organisations so that I can hear their voices and work together to agree to a way forward for a better future for our children.

To me a child in a remote community is just as important as a state or national leader.

I want to encourage Ministers, Assistant Ministers and as many members of the Australian Parliament to become familiar with Indigenous organisations, communities and families to identify the issues that Government needs to become aware of and ultimately work towards finding solutions.

Outside government, I want to work with corporate Australia. I am asking them to sit with me around boardroom tables – and around campfires – and discuss how they can contribute. A week after I was sworn in, I received a letter from Jennifer Westacott assuring me the Business Council stood ready to work with me to make sure

‘Australia’s First People’s share in the same economic and social opportunities as every other

Australian.’ She invited me to sit down with them at Garma this year to talk about ‘how business can best work with the Government to build prosperity in Indigenous communities.’[1]

That’s a great start to a working relationship that can really drive change.

It’s not my intention to develop policy out of my office but to implement a co-design process with my Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues – relevant departments and with Indigenous communities, organisations and leaders.I am charged with developing enhanced local/regional decision making through expanding

Empowered Communities and other Regional Governance models.

I want to see our Elders, as well as the young people, being informed and investing in decisionmaking about what is important in their lives. Without that local and regional engagement our efforts won’t succeed and opportunities to make a difference will be lost.

I will be expecting my Agency to implement a codesign approach whereby we will become partners in the design process and helping reform – that will realise better outcomes.

The model for the way in which I want to work to effect change is premised on Mick Copes ‘The Definitive Guide to Consulting Process. That is

Client; Understand the community and the  problem.

Clarify: Find out what is really going on.

Create: Build the best possible solution.

Change: Make it happen.

Confirm: Make sure it has happened.

Continue: Make the change stick.

Close :Close the engagement but maintain the relationship.

Deal With Unanticipated Consequences and

Keep the Momentum

I invite all sides of politics to work with me to ensure we provide the best support and services needed to effect change. (Cite Alice Springs Glasses)

I will work to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes for young Indigenous people and implement a targeted plan towards zero youth suicide in remote communities.

We’ve all been shocked and grieved by the numbers of Aboriginal people, especially youth, committing suicide.

The fact that Aboriginal people are committing suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians is one of the gravest and most heartbreaking challenges we face.

Precious lives that should be full of promise, instead filled with despair and disconnection.

We need to address the influence of social and cultural factors if we are to see significant change. We need to listen to young people.

The Prime Minister announced the appointment of

Christine Morgan as our new National Suicide Prevention Adviser to support this priority.

Ms Morgan will work with the Prime Minister’s Department and the Minister for Health to drive a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention, while ensuring prevention services reach Australians that need them and communities are supported

The allocation of $500 million for Youth Mental Health and a Suicide Prevention Plan include $34 million for Indigenous youth suicide prevention.

We need to get the right services to the right people through outreach and frontline services, with tools like the mental health first aid kit.

Young people in the Kimberley have made it clear that suicides don’t happen between nine and five but often after when they are not accessible. They suggested organisations funded for Mental Health and suicide services consider after-hours services to enable youth to access support when they need it in times of crisis. Not a telephone line.

As mentioned earlier I will develop and bring forward a consensus option for Constitutional Recognition to be put to a referendum during the current parliamentary term. I have commenced the process of engaging and seeking the counsel of Indigenous leaders on the best way forward.

We need to design the right model to progress to a point at which the majority of Australians, the majority of states and territories and Indigenous Australians support the model so that it is successful. The Morrison Government is committed to recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, and working to achieve this through a process of true co-design.

Constitutional recognition is too important to get wrong, and too important to rush.

The successful 1967 Referendum was the result of tireless advocacy and an extraordinary nation-wide momentum for change. If we want to see that kind of national consensus again, we need to be thorough and take the time to get it right.

We have allocated $7.3 million for a co-design process to improve local and regional decision making and $160 million has been set aside for a future referendum once the model has been determined.I plan to establish a working group of Parliamentary colleagues of all political persuasions to assist me in considering the role of engaging on many levels to bring forward a community model. The Shadow Minister for

Aboriginal Affairs Linda Burney will be integral to this process.

I will work on approaches to progressing how we address truth telling. Without the truth of the past, there can be no agreement on where and who we are in the present, how we arrived here and where we want to go in the future.

A truth-telling process that allows all Australians to reflect on the place of First Nations people and our shared past has to happen at the national, state and local levels right across our country.

History is generally written from a dominant society’s point of view and not that of the suppressed and therefore true history is brushed aside, masked, dismissed or destroyed. In recent years we have seen more open acknowledgement as more evidence emerges of the brutal realities of the past.  We need to know what happened to the children raised on the Missions and in foster homes and their parents. To see their lasting effect on the way people move through the world decades later.

It’s now 22 years since the Bringing them Home

Report opened the records of child removals and showed people, some for the first time, what happened to Aboriginal families in this country.

We need to hear of the lies they were told, the casual cruelty of the fates they were dealt and the unthinkable loss in their hearts.

Opening those records was painful for all of us, but it was necessary.

It opened hearts and minds. It opened up space in our collective life for understanding, healing and forgiveness.

That’s what truth does. It sets you free.

Only when we tell the truth, and when we are willing to listen to the truth, can we find common ground to walk on. Only then can we begin to trust each other and to walk together, side by side.

With respect to Treaty it is important that State and Territory jurisdiction’s take the lead.

The Western Australian Noongar Land Agreement implemented by the Barnett Government is a Treaty in the true sense.

Treaty models are evolving with work being undertaken by the Victorian and Northern Territory Governments which will address the aspirations of the Indigenous Australians in those jurisdictions.

I am charged with delivering a revised Closing the Gap targets that drive improved outcomes for Indigenous Australians through the Closing the Gap refresh process and arrangements.

In December 2018, COAG agreed to build its relationship with Indigenous Australians, and the Coalition has overseen the first-ever formal partnership agreement between Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander peak organisations, the

Federal government, and states and territories.

This will have profound impacts as we move to implementation of the Council of Australian Governments Closing the Gap partnership agreement.

We continue to work on Closing the Gap – the gap between outcomes in health and mortality and life expectancy; in education, jobs and economic security, and other aspects of wellbeing.

A diverse and disparate geography shapes effective service delivery as governments, providers and business navigate the diversity of urban, regional and more than 2,000 remote communities and towns. Cwth – NG Land’s Aged Care

In this setting, we are committed to expanding regional models that give Indigenous Australians a real say on issues that affect them and drive local solutions to improve outcomes.

First Australians regularly state that Indigenous organisations deliver stronger outcomes for their people, through cultural competence, engagement and community confidence.

But equally we need to ensure Indigenous Australians who choose to use other services including mainstream services are a priority for our Government. Since March this year the Community

Development Programme, affectionately known as CDP has been reformed to ensure that communities have a say in the way programme is run through the establishment of Community Advisory Boards.

The CDP is delivered by Indigenous organisations, with a focus on Indigenous people and communities.

I will work closely with organisations and the local communities to consider the way in which the program can be enhanced. – That is to deliver skills and competencies – which are tangible for future employment where opportunities exist.

Around 60% of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and Aboriginals Benefit Account grant funding is provided to Indigenous organisations, a significant increase from 35 per cent before the introduction of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

We have committed an additional $10 million to support the revival and maintenance of Indigenous Australians languages.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians sharing their stories, languages and cultures through national institutions such as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the National Museum of Australia.

We are also helping our nation to heal with funding to deliver the support that is needed for surviving members of the Stolen Generation. We are providing funding to the Healing Foundation to support their work, including a comprehensive needs-analysis to better understand the demography of the surviving members of the Stolen Generation.

The Morrison Government is committed to expanding the very successful Indigenous Procurement Policy to include targets based on the value of contracts awarded, not just the number of contracts granted.

There are 1,951 Indigenous registered and certified businesses registered with Supply Nation. At the recent IBA breakfast last week we heard that there were 2000 Indigenous women who are part of the Strong Women. Strong Business platform. Many had been knocked back by the IBA for start-up funding but despite the “no” persisted.

Since 2015, more than 1,530 Indigenous businesses have won over 12,600 contracts under the Indigenous Procurement Policy totalling more than $2.1 billion.

Evaluation is important to ascertain what works effectively. The Indigenous Advancement Strategy Evaluation Framework is systematically strengthening reporting, monitoring and evaluation at a contract, program and outcome level. This is a principle task of Rom Mokak the Indigenous Productivity Commissioner to review and report to Government.

We are implementing a framework to ensure high quality; ethical; and inclusive evaluations can be

used to inform more effective policy and decision making for ongoing improvement of services to ensure we are making a difference.

But even the most well-intentioned modern policies and programs have still tended to take a top-down, command and control approach.  As if Aboriginal people didn’t know what they needed or wanted.

As if proud members of one of the world’s longestlived civilisations had nothing to say, no wisdom to offer, about what would help their families thrive and their communities flourish.

Fred Chaney, former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in the Fraser Government, put it this way: ‘They were first, and they survived – we should listen.’[2]  I made this commitment on my first day: that I will listen, and that I will walk with Aboriginal people as they find their own paths to health, happiness and success.  In finding those paths, we are not looking out on a trackless landscape. There are tracks and song lines to follow created by people who have gone before, seeking better lives for our people.

We’re starting from the strengths and aspirations already there.

If you think about the fact that 65 per cent of all Indigenous Australians are under 30, you realise what an enormous difference we can make by investing in their futures.

I’ve never met an Aboriginal parent who didn’t want their child to succeed, to be healthy and happy, and to have a rich life and a better life than we as the earlier generations had.

There are heroes in every community, who every day touch the lives of another person.

The mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, uncles and aunties who inspire the little ones around them to become like them:

elders of dignity and pride and grace. Armed with confidence in their culture, they are the custodians of hope.

I’d like to share a story about one of my heroes.

Last Saturday the first statue of an indigenous AFL footballer was unveiled at the 50th Western Derby between West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium.

The bronze statue pays tribute to Neil Elvis ‘Nicky’

Winmar, a Noongar man known for his career with St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs in the AFL, as well as South Fremantle in the WAFL, but also for one of the most famous moments in Australian sport.

After the final siren in the round four Saints win over Collingwood at Victoria Park on 17 April 1993 Nicky lifted his St Kilda jumper and pointed to his stomach, his skin. The moment Nicky lifted his jumper the image captured by the photographer portrayed the strong sense of pride for all Indigenous Australians of their culture, historical links to country and that the colour of one’s skin is not a barrier.

By doing this, he made a stand against racism in sport starting the conversation that racism in sport needed to be tackled and was unacceptable behaviour.

Nicky’s actions epitomised an important point in time and I am so proud that his statue has taken pride of place outside WA’s home of football in his home state.

We have non-Indigenous heroes too.

Fiona Stanley and Fred Hollows in health. Nugget Coombs and Sir Paul Hasluck in public policy. There are many more who work with us and alongside us including our teachers, police officers, nurses, corporate leaders and community workers. I value their contributions immensely.

Neville Bonner was the first Indigenous person in the Australian Parliament and Neville and I became friends in his later years.

I’ll never forget being shown around the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, and seeing his pillow on display.

The curator explained that his family had donated his pillow and his diary. In the diary he wrote that in Canberra, he was never invited to a function, or to dinner. He was never invited for a coffee and a chat. He went home every night to his pillow – his only friend.

It’s like the child who is never invited to a birthday party.

What a picture of loneliness. It is so much harder to walk the path of progress when you’re alone.

I take great comfort in knowing I am not alone. Indeed, I couldn’t do this alone. I know the expectations on me are high. I know I won’t live up to all of them.

I will do my best if our leadership and our communities walk with me leaving our footprints for others to follow.

All of us leave footprints in the sand as we take each step in life as we achieve our aspirations and dreams.

They mark the way; they show our past, the distance we have travelled over the years but more importantly if we walked alone or with others in friendship and support.

As I walk this way, I hope the footprints I leave and the tracks I create will allow others to walk the same way, and find it easier than I did.

I’m sure many of you in this room remember the day, almost 20 years ago now, when more than 300,000 Australians marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for Reconciliation.

It was a breathtaking moment of solidarity, when Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians walked arm in arm across that iconic bridge, declaring their will to walk arm in arm in our national life as well.

That’s the image that I carry with me. That’s what I see when I look for partners and fellow-travellers on this journey.When I look back along the paths we’ve walked and the progress we’ve made, I can see the faces in that crowd.

And it will be easier, because it won’t be one set of footprints but many. It will be hundreds and thousands of footprints of all sizes, walking in the same direction, side by side working to make a difference.

The sands of this nation bear the indelible footprints of the oldest living culture in the world.

Those who come after them must leave their own tracks. It’s up to us to choose where we make them, and where they might lead. The challenges are many and I invite you to share your generosity of humanity to walk and work with me.

Thank you.


[1] Letter to the Minister from Jennifer Westacott, dated 7 June 2019.

[2] ‘They were first, and they survived – we should listen.’ The Australian, 17 January 2018. This piece was critical of the Turnbull Government’s response to the Uluru statement.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosingTheGap #NAIDOC2019 : @AIHW Key results report 2017-18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations:

Findings from this report:

  • Just under half (45%) of organisations provide services in Remote or Very remote areas

  • In 2017–18, around 483,000 clients received 3.6 million episodes of care

  • Nearly 8,000 full-time equivalent staff are employed in these organisations and 4,695 (59%) are health staff

  • Organisations reported 445 vacant positions in June 2018 with health vacancies representing 366 (82%) of these
  • In 2017–18, nearly 200 organisations provided a range of primary health services to around 483,000 clients, 81% of whom were Indigenous.
  • Around 3.6 million episodes of care were provided, nearly 3.1 million of these (85%) by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

See AIHW detailed Interactive site locations map HERE

In 2017–18, Indigenous primary health services were delivered from 383 sites (Table 3). Most sites provided clinical services such as the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses (88%), mental health and counselling services (88%), maternal and child health care (86%), and antenatal care (78%). Around two-thirds provided tobacco programs (69%) and substance-use and drug and alcohol programs (66%).

Most organisations provided access to a doctor (86%) and just over half (54%) delivered a wide range of services, including all of the following during usual opening hours: the diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease; antenatal care; maternal and child health care; social and emotional wellbeing/counselling services; substance use programs; and on‑site or off-site access to specialist, allied health and dental care services.

Most organisations (95%) also provided group activities as part of their health promotion and prevention work. For example, in 2017–18, these organisations provided around:

  • 8,400 physical activity/healthy weight sessions
  • 3,700 living skills sessions
  • 4,600 chronic disease client support sessions
  • 4,100 tobacco-use treatment and prevention sessions.

In addition to the services they provide, organisations were asked to report on service gaps and challenges they faced and could list up to 5 of each from predefined lists. In 2017–18, around two-thirds of organisations (68%) reported mental health/social and emotional health and wellbeing services as a gap faced by the community they served.

This was followed by youth services (54%). Over two-thirds of organisations (71%) reported the recruitment, training and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff as a challenge in delivering quality health services.

Read full report and all data HERE

This is the tenth national report on organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous primary health services

Primary health services play a critical role in helping to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians may access mainstream or Indigenous primary health services funded by the Australian and state and territory governments.

Information on organisations funded by the Australian Government under its Indigenous Australians’ health programme (IAHP) is available through two data collections: the Online Services Report (OSR) and the national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs). Most of the organisations funded under the IAHP contribute to both collections (Table 1).

The OSR collects information on the services organisations provide, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and staffing levels. Contextual information about each organisation is also collected. The nKPIs collect information on a set of process of care and health outcome indicators for Indigenous Australians.

There are 24 indicators that focus on maternal and child health, preventative health and chronic disease management. Information from the nKPI and OSR collections help monitor progress against the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Closing the Gap targets, and supports the national health goals set out in the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.

Detailed information on the policy context and background to these collections are available in previous national reports, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report—key results 2016–17 and National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: results for 2017.

At a glance

This tenth national OSR report presents information on organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide primary health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes a profile of these organisations and information on the services they provide, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and staffing levels. Interactive data visualisations using OSR data for 5 reporting periods, from 2013–14 to 2017–18, are presented for the first time.

Key messages

  1. A wide range of primary health services are provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2017–18:
  • 198 organisations provided primary health services to around 483,000 clients, most of whom were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (81%).
  • These organisations provided around 3.6 million episodes of care, with nearly 3.1 million (85%) delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs).
  • More than two-thirds of organisations (71%) were ACCHSs. The rest included government-run organisations and other non-government-run organisations.
  • Nearly half of organisations (45%) provided services in Remoteand Very remote
  • Services were delivered from 383 sites across Australia. Most sites provided the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses (88%), social and emotional wellbeing services (88%), maternal and child health care (86%), and antenatal care (78%). Around two-thirds provided tobacco programs (69%) and substance-use and drug and alcohol programs (66%).

See this AIHW detailed Interactive site locations map HERE

  1. Organisations made on average nearly 13 contacts per client

In 2017–18, organisations providing Indigenous primary health services made around 6.1 million client contacts, an average of nearly 13 contacts per client (Table 2). Over half of all client contacts (58%) were made by nurses and midwives (1.8 million contacts) and doctors (1.7 million contacts). Contacts by nurses and midwives represented half (49%) of all client contacts in Very remote areas compared with 29% overall.

  1. Organisations employed nearly 8,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff

At 30 June 2018, organisations providing Indigenous primary health services employed nearly 8,000 FTE staff and over half of these (54%) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. These organisations were assisted by around 270 visiting staff not paid for by the organisations themselves, making a total workforce of around 8,200 FTE staff.

Nurses and midwives were the most common type of health worker (14% of employed staff), followed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners (13%) and doctors (7%). Nurses and midwives represented a higher proportion of employed staff in Very remote areas (22%).

  1. Social and emotional health and wellbeing services are the most commonly reported service gap

Organisations can report up to 5 service gaps faced by the community they serve from a predefined list of gaps. Since this question was introduced in 2012–13, the most commonly reported gap has been for mental health and social and emotional health and wellbeing services. In 2017–18, this was reported as a gap by 68% of organisations.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: @KenWyattMP  #NAIDOC2019 Week 2019 kicks off with the National NAIDOC Awards ceremony showcasing the outstanding achievement of some of Australia’s finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

“NAIDOC Week is a proud celebration of everything Australia’s First Nations’ people hold dear – our lands and waters, languages and stories that have been passed on from generation to generation in the oldest continuing culture on earth.

This year’s theme, Voice. Treaty. Truth – Let’s work together for a shared future, reflects the desires of Indigenous Australians to achieve concrete progress in having their voices and truths heard.

 By applying a ground-up approach through co-design, we will work to further our priorities including Closing the Gap, addressing the shocking rates of Indigenous youth suicide, working through a thoughtful process for Constitutional Recognition and a Voice for Indigenous Australians.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt

NAIDOC Week 2019 has kicked off on the weekend  under the theme of Voice. Treaty. Truth – Let’s work together for a shared future echoing the call for constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. See Part 1

The National NAIDOC Awards are the premier awards for Indigenous Australians and this year’s recipients are well-deserving of our praise and admiration

Their accomplishments in culture and community, sports, education and the arts stand as examples to which we can all aspire and commemorate the unique and precious place of Indigenous history, culture and achievement within the fabric of our nation.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt

Picture above the winners with the NAIDOC Committee 

See full list of winners Part 2 below or HERE 

” Thelma Weston, a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, is like no other. Her life is a story of survival, achievement, hope, love and celebration.

Despite only having a limited education, Aunty Thelma trained as a nurse and became a fully qualified health worker. At age 83, Aunty Thelma still works full time at Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services in Canberra, using her skills to manage the needle exchange program.”

See Thelma’s full bio below Part 3

Part 1


Minister Wyatt, said this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations, which provided Australians the opportunity to honour and respect the ongoing history, culture and achievements of our First Nations’ people, were even more significant given the recent commitment by both sides of government to work together to bring about change.

Minister Wyatt also said that the Morrison Government was committed to doing things differently by working in partnership and sitting down and talking with Indigenous communities.

NAIDOC Week features hundreds of events around the country to share stories and celebrate our rich heritage and uniquely Australian culture.”

The Morrison Government has committed $1.4 million in local community grants to support these events to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can celebrate their culture and achievements.

NAIDOC Week events cover a wide range of activities such as family days with dancing, food markets and marches, Welcome to Country ceremonies, cultural performances, speakers, art workshops, BBQs and awards ceremonies.

“I encourage everyone to find an event near them and take the opportunity to deepen ties in

their communities and celebrate our culture and successes,” Minister Wyatt said.

NAIDOC Week runs from 7 – 14 July 2019. A full event listing can be found at

Part 2 : The 2019 Award recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement Award – David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu, AM

Person of the Year – Dean Duncan

Female Elder of the Year – Thelma Weston

Male Elder of the Year – Greg Little

Caring for Country Award – Littlewell Working Group

Youth of the Year – Mi-kaisha Masella

Artist of the Year – Elma Gada Kris

Scholar of the Year – Professor Michael McDaniel

Apprentice of the Year – Ganur Maynard

Sportsperson of the Year – Shantelle Thompson

Read all profiles HERE

“I congratulate this year’s winners and commend each of them for their contributions to achieving a better shared future for all Australians and the wonderful role models they represent for the young members of our communities.”

“This better future is reflected in this year’s NAIDOC theme of Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.

“The Award winners embody this theme and represent the contributions all First Nations’ people make to our community – contributions we celebrate in NAIDOC Week,” Ministery Wyatt said.

For more information on these proud Indigenous Australians and other NAIDOC events please go to

Part 3 Thelma Weston Female Elder of the Year

Thelma Weston, a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, is like no other. Her life is a story of survival, achievement, hope, love and celebration.

Despite only having a limited education, Aunty Thelma trained as a nurse and became a fully qualified health worker.At age 83, Aunty Thelma still works full time at Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services in Canberra, using her skills to manage the needle exchange program.

She has a long history of outstanding involvement and achievements in the community and has sat on a number of local and national committees and boards.
Aunty Thelma is on the board of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) and regularly travels across Australia to attend board meetings.

As a breast cancer survivor, Aunty Thelma has worked with Breast Cancer Network Australia to encourage other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to connect, seek support and information about the disease.

Aunty Thelma is much loved, admired and well respected, not only in her workplace and amongst her clients, but in the wider ACT community and across Australia.  She is a wonderful example of a wise and caring Torres Strait Islander woman who has achieved much for her family and community.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingtheGap #Voice At opening of 46 th Parliament leaders @ScottMorrisonMP @AlboMP pledge co-operation on recognition

“There are two tracks: there’s the practical track, which is about young people not killing themselves. And I must say, that’s my higher priority,

And there is also this important constitutional track, which is important for the country.

That will happen at a pace in which there’s agreement.”

Prime Minster Scott Morrison opening 46 th Parliament

Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have pledged to work together on indigenous recognition as the new term of parliament begins.

But the prime minister rates stopping Australia’s young indigenous people from killing themselves as a far higher priority than constitutional change.

His government committed $7.3 million in the budget to design options for a Voice to Parliament, saying it would hold a referendum once the model was settled.

But while Labor highlighted constitutional recognition as part of its election campaign – releasing a plan for a Voice to Parliament and regional assemblies at its campaign launch – Mr Morrison talked more about youth suicide and mental health.

“I must admit my more immediate priorities in indigenous affairs is stopping young indigenous people committing suicide in remote communities, ensuring that they are going and staying in school, that there are employment opportunities for their parents, and that they’re safe in their communities,”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt – the first Aboriginal person to hold the portfolio – and Mr Morrison speak often about this practical agenda and the closing the gap initiatives.

However, there are still strong sections of the indigenous communities for whom recognition and the Voice to Parliament proposed in 2017’s Uluru Statement are just as important.

Asked how he would engage an electorate that has become largely disillusioned with politics and convince voters that change was needed, Mr Morrison said firstly parliament had to work as a whole to achieve it.

“I’d like to see it come to fruition, I always have,” he told AAP.

“The leader of the opposition and I, when we had our first initial conversation when I rang to congratulate him, this is an area that I think we can probably work together.

“But there’s expectations of indigenous Australians as well and how they marry up with … what can be taken forward.”

Mr Albanese told the welcome to country ceremony ahead of Tuesday’s opening of parliament that indigenous recognition is the first agenda on which parliament needs to co-operate.

“We will work with you. This thing can be done,” he said in remarks addressed to Mr Morrison.

“We have been welcomed to this country today in such a generous spirit by such a hopeful heart and we should respond with courage, with kindness and with determination.

“Forty-five times we have opened the parliament in this country without a voice to parliament for the first nations of this great land. This 46th parliament should be the last time in which we do that.”

PRIME MINISTER’s : Welcome to country speech 

Our Parliament meets on Ngunnawal land.

Here, 65,000 thousand years of Aboriginal culture meets mere centuries of Westminster tradition, which the Leader of the Opposition and I represent, being here together and I acknowledge Anthony as I do all of my Parliamentary colleagues, the Deputy Prime Minister who joins us here today.

We gather in respect – acknowledging the Ngunnawal elders, the ancient ceremony of fire and smoke that will commence shortly has become part of the tradition of this building, and thankfully so.

It was just over a decade ago that the first ever smoking ceremony accompanied the opening of Parliament, and I thank the Speaker and the President of the Senate for their continuing support of this as it shall always be in this place.

We couldn’t imagine this day without this ceremony. And nor should we.

It is appropriate that at the entrance of our parliament, just beyond the Great Verandah is the beautiful mosaic on the forecourt.

Michael Nelson Jagamara’s Possum and Wallaby Dreaming.

Brush tail possums.

Red kangaroos.

Rock Wallabies and more – Jagamara’s Dreaming ancestors all gathering for an important ceremony.

Stirring in its subtlety.

As the artist said himself, the 90,000 hand-guillotined granite pieces present, and represent a place ‘where all people come and meet together, just like we do in our ceremonies to discuss and work things out together’.

And that captures the work, the job of this place: to ‘work things out together’.

In my maiden speech to Parliament, I said that ‘a strong country is at peace with its past’. This is a work in progress.

Being at peace with our past, being at one with our past.

While we reflect on how far we have to go, consider though how far we’ve come.

This year, my Government appointed Ken Wyatt as the first ever Aboriginal person to hold the position of Minister for Indigenous Australians – and as a member of Cabinet and I welcome him here this morning.

And I’m pleased, as I know the Leader of the Opposition is, that he is joined in the Parliament by the Member for Barton, Linda Burney, and Senators Patrick Dodson; Malarndirri McCarthy and Jacqui Lambie. But together, between Linda and Ken, I think Anthony and I are both very optimistic about the partnership that can be forged.

Indigenous important voices that I’m confident will be joined by many, many more in the years to come.

It was a different story at the official opening of what we now call the Old Parliament House back in 1927.

Not a single First Australian was invited to celebrate.

However that didn’t stop two men.

Jimmy Clements – better known as King Billy – and John Noble.

They left their home at Brungle Mission near Gundagai and began a long walk to Canberra.

They trudged over the mountains.

Until they arrived in the nation’s capital.

The 80 year old King Billy stood firm in front of the new Parliament and protested ‘his sovereign rights to the Federal Territory’.

The police ordered him to move on – fearing his shabby clothes and the dogs at his bare feet would offend the sensibilities of the Duke and Duchess of York who were in attendance.

An incredible thing happened.

The crowd, Australians, took King Billy’s side.

They called on him to stand his ground. He did.

A clergyman declared that he ‘had a better right than any man present’ to be there, and that was true.

King Billy won that fight.

And the next day, he was among those citizens officially presented to the Duke and Duchess.

His long walk to Canberra paid off.

Almost eight decades later, footballing great Michael Long would also begin a long walk to Canberra – and would famously meet with the then Prime Minister John Howard to discuss issues facing Indigenous communities.

As Michael’s wife Leslie put it so well ‘when one person starts walking, someone will walk next to them…and they’ll say ‘I believe in that too – I’ll walk with you.’

So here we are. Walking together.

All Australians, Indigenous or not, walking together side by side.

Towards reconciliation.

Towards equal opportunities.

Towards Closing the Gap once and for all.

Walking in the same way a determined, steely eyed, 80 year old Wiradjuri man walked to Canberra almost a century ago.

We have a long way to go. We know. But we will walk that journey together.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : @pmc_gov_au Minister @KenWyattMP ( NIAA ) National Indigenous Agency Marks A New Era of Co-Design and Partnership to #ClosetheGap with Ray Griggs CEO

“Establishing this agency solely dedicated to the advancement of Australia’s First Nations is a significant opportunity for the Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground to provide opportunities for growth and advancement, in education, employment, suicide prevention, community safety, health and constitutional recognition.

Over my life I have seen progress made but there is still more to do to find solutions and make a difference at the community level.

The NIAA will play a critical role in supporting me, as the first Indigenous Cabinet Minister and Minister for Indigenous Australians, to meet the changing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their leaders and communities

All of us must work together with State and Territory Governments to bring about change and close the gap in Indigenous communities.”

Minister Ken Wyatt

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) was officially established today as an Executive Agency under the Prime Minister’s portfolio, marking a new era of co-design and partnership.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said the new agency represented a fundamental change in the way of doing business with Indigenous Australians by forming partnerships with Indigenous Australians at all levels, from children in remote communities to peak national organisations.

Minister Wyatt also announced that the inaugural Chief Executive Officer will be Mr Ray Griggs AO, CSC whose entire career has been in service to Australia and its peoples.

See NACCHO post for background

“NIAA is privileged to have such an experienced leader at the helm,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Ray Griggs will lead a dedicated team of some 1200 staff committed to making a significant contribution to an Australia that respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and peoples.”

Chief Executive Officer Ray Griggs, said evolving the Indigenous Affairs Group of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet into an Executive Agency in its own right was a natural progression.

“This change provides the opportunity to enhance the way we work across Government and ensure we have better coordination across the Commonwealth on matters that affect Indigenous Australians,” Mr Griggs said.

Minister Wyatt said he was looking forward to strong working partnerships with all levels of the team at NIAA to walk and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Together we can build on our shared successes but also do many things differently, to deliver real change,” Minister Wyatt said.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #IndigenousEvaluationStrategy : The Australian Government has asked the @ozprodcom to develop a whole-of-government evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians

 ” We are developing an evaluation strategy for Australian Government policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 Better evidence about what works and why is needed to improve policies and programs.

The strategy will cover both Indigenous‑specific and mainstream policies and programs.”

 Romlie Mokak, Commissioner, Productivity Commission

Download the brochure HERE


Great ideas, engagement and interest in #IndigenousEvaluationStrategy workshop at #LowitjaConf2019 facilitated by Commissioner @RMokak and team members. Strong indicator of need for more attention on policy and program development and evaluation.

Evaluation can help policy-makers and communities determine:

  • whether government policies and programs are achieving their objectives
  • what influences whether government policies and programs are effective
  • how government policies and programs can be improved

We will engage widely across metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

We want to hear from individuals, communities and organisations.

  • How can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, priorities and values be better integrated into policy and program evaluation?
  • What principles should guide Australian Government agencies’ evaluation efforts?
  • What should be the priority policy areas for future Australian Government evaluation efforts?
  • How can evaluation results be better used in policy and program design and implementation?

We are particularly keen to get input and advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

An issues paper will be released in June 2019.

Learn more about the project, or register your interest or call 1800 020 083

Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

Letter of Direction

Evaluation of policies and programs impacting on Indigenous Australians

I, Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer, pursuant to Parts 2 and 4 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998 hereby request the Productivity Commission to develop a whole-of-government evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians. The Commission will also review the performance of agencies against the strategy over time, focusing on potential improvements and on lessons that may have broader application for all governments.


A number of high profile reports have highlighted the need for more evaluation of policies and programs that have an impact on Indigenous Australians. For example, the Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report 2016found that only a relatively small number of programs have been rigorously evaluated.

Improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians depends on agencies with responsibility for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians undertaking meaningful evaluations. The Commission is to develop a strategy to guide that evaluation effort.


The Commission should develop an evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians, to be utilised by all Australian Government agencies. As part of the strategy, the Commission should:

  • establish a principles based framework for the evaluation of policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians
  • identify priorities for evaluation
  • set out its approach for reviewing agencies’ conduct of evaluations against the strategy.

In developing the strategy, the Commission should consider:

  • how to engage Indigenous communities and incorporate Indigenous knowledge and perspectives
  • ethical approaches to evaluations
  • evaluation experience in Australia and overseas
  • relevant current or recent reviews commissioned or undertaken by Australian, state, territory or local government agencies
  • the availability and use of existing data, and the further development of other required data and information
  • areas in which there may be value in the Productivity Commission undertaking evaluation
  • how to translate evidence into practice and to embed evaluation in policy and program delivery.


The Commission should consult widely on the strategy, in particular with Indigenous people, communities and organisations (such as the Empowered Community regions), and with all levels of government. It should also consult with non-Indigenous organisations, and individuals responsible for administering and delivering relevant policies and programs.

The Commission should adopt a variety of consultation methods including seeking public submissions.

The Commission should provide the evaluation strategy and forward work program to Government within 15 months of commencement.

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP

[10 April 2019]


Aboriginal Health and Indigenous Advancement Strategy : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner expresses her frustration that another ANAO report raises concerns about @pmc_gov_au management of #Indigenous Affairs.   

 ” It is very frustrating that we have another report from the Australian National Audit Office raising serious concerns about the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s management of Indigenous Affairs.  , 

In this case, it is the arrangements for the evaluation of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy which is a multi-billion dollar investment.  

The report tells us that five years after the introduction of the IAS, the Department is only in the early stages of implementing an evaluation framework and that there has been substantial delays.  

That is not good enough for the Department in charge of the Australian public service. ”  


Listen to ABC World Today Interview Here 

Download the full ANAO report HERE

Evaluating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs

The prime minister’s department acknowledged the findings of the audit report but said the strategy was set up within a “very challenging timeframe”.

It was “moving into a more mature phase of implementation that draws on lessons learned”.

The report made four recommendations, which the department agreed to and was already working to meet.

It intended to revise the strategy’s guidelines, and improve the application process and its own record keeping.

The Indigenous Australians minister, Ken Wyatt, said he “acknowledges the frustration we all share that we are not seeing quick enough progress on closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians”.

“This is why Coag has agreed governments – both commonwealth and states and territories – and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will share ownership of and responsibility for a jointly agreed framework and targets and ongoing monitoring of the Closing the Gap agenda,” he said.

Labor, the Greens and peak Indigenous groups say the government must overhaul its Indigenous advancement strategy after a report found that the $5.1bn program was not being properly evaluated and did not align with the government’s policy objectives.

From The Guardian 19 June

Read full article 

After five years and $4.8 billion dollars, a new Auditor General’s report has revealed the Liberals and Nationals still can’t say whether their Indigenous Advancement Strategy is working.

Serious questions about the administration of the IAS have been swirling for years. Funding decisions have been notoriously opaque and the effectiveness of many programs is unclear.

This new report confirms the IAS has been operating for years without proper evaluation processes. Despite the former Minister being warned by his Department in 2016:

“At some point the current situation will become untenable as it is not sustainable to continue to fund activities that lack a good evidence base.”

[ANAO Report, p21, 2019]

Labor Response to ANAO report

Download Press Release Here

IAS Labor Response


The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C or the department) has been the lead agency for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs since 2013.

With the introduction of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) in 2014, 27 programs were consolidated into five broad programs under a single outcome, with $4.8 billion initially committed over four years from 2014–15.

The Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO’s) performance audit of the IAS (Auditor-General Report No.35 2016–17) noted that the department did not have a formal evaluation strategy or evaluation funding for the IAS for its first two years.

In February 2017 the Minister for Indigenous Affairs announced funding of $40 million over four years from 2017–18 to strengthen IAS evaluation, which would be underpinned by a formal evidence and evaluation framework.

In February 2018 the department released an IAS evaluation framework document, describing high level principles for how evaluations of IAS programs should be conducted, and outlining future capacity-building activities and broad governance arrangements.

Part 1 Pat Turner comments continued

It follows a string of bad audits starting with the audit of the IAS which found that the Department had not consulted properly in designing the IAS and rolling out a disastrous application process that led to many community controlled organisations losing their funding without reason.

Now the Government has decided to set  up a new executive agency, inside the Prime Minister’s portfolio but outside the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to manage Indigenous Affairs.

It is good that a separate agency  for Indigenous Affairs is being re-established as it is one of the most important functions of the Commonwealth.

Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders never asked or supported Indigenous Affairs being moved into the department of the Prime Minister and it is clear it has not done a good job on the IAS.

Whether setting up a new agency gets better outcomes remains to be seen.

Many say that the very disruptive shift of Indigenous Affairs into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has resulted in Indigenous Affairs being hollowed out and a loss of nearly all the capacity that it had before.

In the meantime, we are pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to a new COAG  Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap which includes agreement to an Indigenous led evaluation  of Closing the Gap progress after 3 years.

We think that bringing the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the equation, and allowing them to share decision making about Government policy, programs and evaluation will improve outcomes.

It will allow us to hold agencies much more to account for what they are doing and not doing.

But we also have to commit to building up the community controlled organisations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples to manage programs and deliver services to our people.

That is key to closing the gap and there are some signs that this is understood by the Coalition Government which committed in its election policy to increasing the Aborginal service sector.

That must go to giving them the responsibility for delivering programs and funding instead of public servants.

This audit shows that it is time for a radical shift away from governments and public servants to Aboriginal led delivery through their own community controlled organisations.

They will take responsibility for outcomes in a way that the public servants do not.


Aboriginal Health and #ChronicDisease 1 of 2 #SaveADates Submissions Close 15 July for Reviewing the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI). Register for Workshops 17 June to 3 July #NSW #QLD #VIC #SA #WA #NT#ACT

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention @NMHC Communique : @GregHuntMP roundtable meeting to review investment to date in mental health and suicide prevention : #TimeToFixMentalHealth #TomCalma @AUMentalHealth @FrankGQuinlan @PatMcGorry @amapresident @headspace_aus

” Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, hosted a Government-led roundtable this week to review investment to date in mental health and suicide prevention, to hear from the sector on current gaps and priorities, to understand what is and is not working, and to advise on the upcoming national forum on youth mental health and suicide prevention.

Minister Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are committed to working towards zero-suicide for all Australians, including our youth.

From the National Mental Health Commission 6 June 

( The Indigenous ) Suicide rates are an appalling national tragedy that is not only depriving too many of our young people of a full life, but is wreaking havoc among our families and communities.

As anyone who has experienced a friend or family member committing suicide will know, the effects are widespread and devastating and healing can be elusive for those left behind.

It is time that we draw a line under this tragic situation that is impacting so significantly on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities  “

Noting Professor Tom Calma AO was a participant in the meeting via telephone link and opened the meeting with a discussion on Indigenous suicide. 

See this quote and 140 Plus Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO in last 7 Years 

Those in attendance welcomed the Government’s commitment, with a number noting that suicide prevention needs to be a priority across all age groups, especially those groups with the highest suicide rates.

The conversation covered a range of key issues, challenges and opportunities for reform and action. Particular discussion points included:

  • Social determinants of mental health: there is a fundamental need to focus on the social determinants of mental health for all Australians, noting and emphasising the range of factors that contribute to distress in young Australians. This is an important factor for all young people and communities, with particular reference to the factors impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.
  • The impact of trauma and disadvantage: conversation centred on the impacts of trauma and disadvantage and the importance of supporting, for example, young people in out-of-home care, those living in poverty and individuals who are in the justice system.
  • Support for children and families: in order to improve the lives of young Australians, there is a need to better support children and families in the early years. This includes support for neurodevelopmental disorders. In the same way headspace has been developed for young people, there was a suggestion that mental health services focused on children and families could show real benefits.  There is strong support for a focus on prevention
  • Support for Schools: a continued need was highlighted around the role of, and support for, schools, including primary schools and early learning centres. Schools are a critical component of a ‘whole of community’ approach in building supportive environments for children and young people.   It was suggested that for families who may not seek services but who were in need a way of ‘connecting’ may be through digital tools, to identify and support children and parents in those families.
  • Impact on youth: young people can be seriously impacted and influenced by the suicide death of other young people who are their friends, peers, family members or celebrities. More timely and sophisticated data and comprehensive local responses are needed to assist in the reduction of risk for further lives being lost following a suicide.
  • Data: The importance of being able to collect, analyse and provide accurate data was highlighted.  This data is significant across mental health services and particularly for suicide prevention, treatment and support services.
  • Service reform: there is a need for service reform to better respond to people with mental health concerns that are too complex to be managed by a GP at a primary health care level but not so acute as to require specialist tertiary mental health services. While there are some good programs and services to build upon, there is a lack of equity across all regions and access remains a key issue for those requiring psychological and other services. We also need to integrate mental health services with drug and alcohol services.
  • Workforce development: there is an urgent need to focus on training and supporting the diverse professionals working with those at risk of or with mental health issues – health and allied health staff, drug and alcohol workers, school counsellors, psychologists, peer workers and many others. The role of peer workers was recognised as being a critical one and this must be included in all workforce development strategies and initiatives.
  • Peer and carer support: many families and peers supporting those who are in suicidal distress and/or living with challenging mental health and drug and alcohol concerns needed immediate and quality support themselves as they are also at risk for mental ill-health. Families and friends are the largest non-clinical workforce providing care and support for Australians and there is an immediate need to provide better supports for them.
  • Regional and national leadership: while attendees were supportive of regional planning and action, it was suggested that stronger guidance at a national level was needed in order to ensure equity and quality of service responses across the country, with a recognition of the importance of the role of Primary Health Networks.  Further work is needed to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all governments were clarified, together with accountability. The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, and particularly the Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan, are key drivers for clearer accountability and integrated and coordinated responses.
  • Funding models: there was discussion on how best to fund services across the range of needs, including the current review of Medicare and the role of private health insurance.

A collective agreement and strong commitment was reached that a collaborative approach is vital to achieving improved mental health outcomes for all Australians, including children and youth.

There is significant support for a 2030 Vision for mental health and suicide prevention, to be led by the Commission and to ensure that the systematic changes required to best service the community can be identified, prioritised and achieved. This Vision would be look beyond the current plans and strategies.

Attendees acknowledged the commitment to mental health and quality program responses in recent years, together with the increased funding in the 2019/20 federal budget for expanded youth and adult mental health services in the community, together with initiatives to strengthen the collection of critical data around suicide and mentally healthy workplaces.  They also noted the current enquiries being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and the Victorian Royal Commission.  However, there needs to be an increased focus on longer term systems reform.  The Commission has been tasked with taking a leading role in this and will work closely with the sector to develop a reform pathway.

Participants embraced the importance of hope, recognising not only the significant investment to date but that youth mental health services in Australia have been copied by other nations.  There is strong support for improvements in mental health and suicide prevention across all levels of government and community.

As outlined by the Minister for Health, this was an opportunity to review the current status and continue this important discussion.  It is one of many conversations that will continue with the sector at organisational, group and individual levels.

The Commission will provide updates in sector engagement and discussions as they occur.

Lucy Brogden

Chair, National Mental Health Commission

Christine Morgan

CEO, National Mental Health Commission