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.