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. ”  

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO

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

Background

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.

 

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

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

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

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

Government response tabled in the Senate 7 November 2016

Download

governmentresponse

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

Download the findings and recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The revision of the guidelines included 17 public forums.

The revised guidelines were released on 21 March 2016.

Download

governmentresponse

Recommendation 1

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

Recommendation 2

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

Recommendation 3

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

Recommendation 4

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

Recommendation 5

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

Recommendation 6

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

Recommendation 7

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

Recommendation 8

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

Recommendation 9

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

 

NACCHO 2015-16 Federal Budget : Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) funding implications

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Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS)

This section is available as a DOWNLOAD in the NACCHO BUDGET REPORT

Although not a budget announcement, the recent announcements of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding have implications for the Sector’s business model.

NACCHO recently prepared a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering processes.

This submission was developed based on surveys with Member Services and the outcomes made available on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

NACCHO surveyed (94) Member Services throughout April, following the announcement of the IAS funding outcomes.

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NACCHO has found that:

  • Funding for ACCHSs has been reduced by approximately $112,884 through the IAS funding from the (4000) grants received in the 2014-15 financial year.
  • Most of the program categories were retained overall, but re-allocated between ACCHSs. The absence of funding for Men’s Health and Prevention programs is notable.
  • Many services did not apply due to the confusing templates and miscommunications from the Department with the ACCHSs.
  • Fifty percent of the 94 Services NACCHO surveyed did not apply for funding.

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Based on the data provided by the Department, NACCHO found that the largest percentage of funding was provided to the Business sector ($53,842,646) equating to 67 per cent of the total funding committed. The Other Health organisations, church, charity and non for profit, Business for Profit, Government Departments and Sporting group categories that are not Aboriginal specific organisations were awarded 73 per cent of the total expenditure under the IAS.

NACCHO has calculated a reduction of IAS funding allocations of $1,202,919,558 overall to essential frontline services including for services for Social Emotional Wellbeing, Alcohol and Drugs, Bringing Them Home, Men’s Health, Youth and Early Years.

The reduction of total funds available in this 2014-15 year of $3,818,923,735 means an overall reduction of 51.4 percent in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

NACCHO will lobby for SEWB, AOD and Men’s health programs in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to return to the Department of Health as result of these outcomes.

 

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