Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and across government throughout 2018–19, PM&C improved the lives of Indigenous Australians through the following activities as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2018–2022:
- Maximising our partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to co-design and co-deliver fit-for-purpose arrangements through community empowerment and place-based partnership models, driving better public sector collaboration across all levels of government, and leveraging mainstream policies and programs for better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while supporting locally driven solutions through our Regional Network
- Accelerating economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by supporting the growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector, enabling more jobseekers to secure sustainable jobs and investing in better housing options for remote communities across the Northern Territory
- Driving lasting generational change through the Closing the Gap Refresh and doubling PM&C’s commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through harmonising policies and smarter, more targeted investment in early learning, health and positive cultural identity
- Promoting culture, innovation and strong leadership by unlocking the growth potential of native title reform, enhancing local governance and decision-making structures, and increasing the use of modern digital platforms to embrace the central role of language, culture and tradition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- Using evidence, research and evaluation to ensure investment is well targeted and adaptable, and to develop a rich, detailed and culturally appropriate understanding of the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
PM&C continued its work on Closing the Gap and made significant progress towards a model of cooperation and partnership with Indigenous communities. As part of this, PM&C partnered extensively with public and private sector entities across Australian jurisdictions that handle various aspects of service delivery. This is reflected in many of the following case studies.
In 2018–19, a new performance model was introduced which will ensure higher quality data is collected to support decision-making into the future. The introduction of this new model has caused delays in the reporting cycle. While determining the efficacy of Government programs remains a challenge, life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are more easily measured. Successive Prime Ministers and Closing the Gap reports have acknowledged achievements and deficiencies in this important work.
PM&C has sought to address the deficiencies by working more collaboratively with Indigenous peoples across Australia at all levels: from local community businesses to national representative bodies. In December 2018, PM&C facilitated a commitment to a formal partnership between the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations. The resulting Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed on 22 March 2019 and established a Joint Council on Closing the Gap, which met for the first time on 27 March 2019.
On 12 June 2019 the Prime Minister announced the transition of the Indigenous Affairs Group, then part of PM&C, to the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA). PM&C ensured that this new agency began operations on 1 July 2019 as announced. As an independent agency reporting to the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, NIAA will raise the prominence of Indigenous issues across government and further the aim of greater self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
External stakeholder feedback collected by an independent survey expert indicates a significant area for improvement is in providing a whole-of-government perspective on priorities for Indigenous Australians and the impact of our advice in this area. The establishment of the NIAA positions the portfolio to address these issues.
PM&C’s advice on Indigenous affairs during 2018–19 was measured through a stakeholder survey and detailed interviews. Ministerial stakeholders were clearly happy with the outcomes of the Closing the Gap Refresh consultations, which started in August 2018, and discussions leading to the COAG meeting in December 2018. There were concerns about the quality of program evaluation, to which PM&C responded with a strategy involving a survey of the Department’s evaluation capability to track progress towards a stronger evaluation culture across the Indigenous Affairs Group. There were also concerns that, with the focus on empowered communities and bespoke partnerships, the transfer of Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) delivery to Indigenous organisations was not keeping pace. Issues with the grants process were identified as a possible cause of this, and PM&C has looked into making the grants process more robust and forward-looking.
|Criterion 3.1||We work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to accelerate economic and education opportunities and make communities safe.|
|Source||Corporate Plan 2018-2022|
Combining all aspects of PM&C’s Indigenous affairs activities, our results demonstrate the Department’s contribution towards Indigenous economic and educational opportunities, and community safety.
Parliamentary Document Management System data confirms that PM&C achieved a result of 88 per cent against a target of 85 per cent for timeliness of advice.
CASE STUDY: Building a performance framework for Closing the Gap
In December 2016 COAG committed to a refresh of the Closing the Gap agenda ahead of the 10th anniversary of the agreement and four of the seven targets expiring in 2018.
PM&C held Closing the Gap Refresh testing phase consultations in each jurisdiction in July and August 2018, engaging over 200 participants. This phase of consultation sought to return to stakeholders who had previously been engaged in the process or lodged submissions to the public consultation website. The consultation included members of the Redfern Alliance, national Indigenous peak bodies, national service providers, and other individuals and organisations. The outcomes of this phase of consultations were fed into discussions between governments in the lead-up to the COAG meeting in December 2018.
In December 2018, COAG released a statement on Closing the Gap and a set of draft targets. COAG agreed that the framework and targets were to be finalised through a genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, through their representatives, with arrangements for the partnership to be settled by the end of February 2019 and the framework and targets settled by mid-2019
In March 2019, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap—an agreement between COAG members and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks)—came into effect. As of June 2019 the agreement had been signed by the Commonwealth, the Coalition of Peaks, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the Australian Local Government Association.
The Commonwealth has entered into an agreement to provide $4.6 million over three years to support the Coalition of Peaks to ensure an equal partnership with governments in designing and monitoring Closing the Gap.
The Joint Council on Closing the Gap, which is the operational arm of the partnership and includes ministerial representation from all governments, the Coalition of Peaks, and the President of the Australian Local Government Association, is expected to settle the Closing the Gap framework and targets by the end of 2019, for consideration by COAG at its next meeting.
CASE STUDY: Promoting culture, innovation and strong leadership
Native Title reform
PM&C and the National Native Title Council facilitated regional forums to help Traditional Owners use their land to realise their social, cultural and economic aspirations. Two-day forums have been held in Port Hedland, Broome, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Cairns and Alice Springs and have been well attended by Traditional Owners and native title holders. These enable Traditional Owners to share information about managing culture and connection to country, facilitating land dealings and efficient ways of meeting their corporate obligations and leadership.
Native title is recognised across 37 per cent of all land in Australia and is increasingly being recognised over sea country. Native title corporations represent groups with traditional rights to speak for country, and manage land and culture. As of 31 May 2019, there were more than 200 Prescribed Bodies Corporate nationwide, with another 100 expected to be incorporated over the next decade. Around a third are large or medium corporations that manage businesses, hold trusts or have responsibility for administering land settlements. The remaining 70 per cent are small but many are forming regional alliances and peak organisations across the country to increase their influence and achieve economies of scale.
Enhancing local governance and decision-making structures
PM&C recognises that each Indigenous community is unique, and we have been moving our policies and programs towards better supporting the development of regional and local ‘place based’ solutions. Under the IAS, in 2018–19 $5.4 million was invested in backbone organisations in eight Empowered Communities regions, which provide critical support to Indigenous leaders in implementing local shared decision-making arrangements. A further $2.75 million has been invested for sub-regional governance in the Cape York region, as part of the development of Pama Futures, which builds on Empowered Communities.
In 2018–19, $9 million was invested in Indigenous capability and governance activities that enhance local governance and decision-making structures. These activities include capacity building for 10 Prescribed Bodies Corporate to take advantage of economic and social opportunities arising from their native title rights, establishing leadership and Elder committees, employing staff to facilitate community consultation and participation in decision-making, and undertaking community planning. In addition, $4.5 million was invested in cultural leadership, capability training and organisational governance.
Celebrating language and culture through digital platforms
PM&C recognises the importance of maintaining and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, cultures and traditions, and the intrinsic value of culture to Indigenous identity. Under the IAS program 2.4, $48 million has been allocated for investments in culture and capability. In 2018–19, as part of this funding, PM&C invested $8.6 million to support Indigenous Australians to express, revitalise and maintain their culture. This includes funding for NAIDOC Week activities and celebrations, support for the Indigenous languages interpreting sector, and funding to support Indigenous Australians to reconnect with their culture as a way of improving and maintaining their wellbeing.
In addition, PM&C invests to facilitate access to digital platforms and infrastructure, and the digitalisation of cultural, social and linguistic information for the benefit of current and future generations.
Under the IAS, in 2018–19 almost $23 million was invested in activities that use modern digital platforms to support the preservation of Indigenous languages and cultures. For example, work was done in 2018–19 to fund the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation Living First Language Platform with an $800,000 grant from the IAS to digitally preserve four Indigenous languages: Warramiri, Warumungu and Anindilyakwa in the Northern Territory; and Adnyamathanha in South Australia. This work will be implemented in 2019–20. PM&C also commissioned a new Indigenous digital literacy app, Your Online Journey, to assist Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia to be confident and safe online.
PM&C invested $17.5 million of IAS funding in 2018–19 in Indigenous media and broadcasting, and supports 41 Indigenous media organisations. These media organisations support cultural expression and provide culturally appropriate content, often in language. PM&C is working with Indigenous media organisations to look at how government can best help them to use digital platforms.
PM&C also invests in digital infrastructure so that Indigenous Australians in remote communities can access information and communication technologies. Annual funding of around $4 million ensures the maintenance and monitoring of up to 245 community payphones and 301 Wi-Fi phones in remote Indigenous communities.
|Criterion 3.2||Indigenous Advancement Strategy activities contribute towards increased Indigenous employment, business and economic development|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 40)|
78.83 per cent of funded Program 2.1 activities achieved their outcome KPI(s)3. Internal assessment by case study supports the contribution to Indigenous employment, business and economic development.
All portfolios exceeded their 2018–19 Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) target.
CASE STUDY: Reforms to the Community Development Program
The Community Development Program (CDP) is a remote employment and community development service. CDP supports jobseekers in remote Australia to build skills, address barriers and contribute to their communities through a range of flexible activities.
The Department’s Regional Network works in partnership with providers to ensure jobseekers are taking part in activities that benefit the community. During 2018–19, the Department implemented reforms to the CDP. This involved working closely with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business; the Department of Human Services; and third-party service providers.
The reforms commenced in March 2019 and respond to feedback from providers, communities, peak bodies and other stakeholders about the need to reduce penalties and increase flexibility, local discretion and community control. The reforms were also informed by the Australian National Audit Office report on the Design and Implementation of the CDP (31 October 2017); the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry report into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the CDP (December 2017); and the evaluation of the first two years of the CDP (5 February 2019).
The reforms include:
- more flexible participation arrangements, which allow jobseekers to take part in CDP activities outside standard business hours
- reduction in participation hours from 50 hours per fortnight to 40 hours per fortnight
- a revised payment model which will no longer incentivise providers to take compliance action
- community advisory boards to support closer community involvement.
The Department is closely monitoring the uptake and delivery of the reforms through its Regional Network and service providers.
The Department also implemented improvements to the ongoing administration of the CDP throughout 2018–19. This included an enhanced Provider Performance Review, finalisation of a national provider selection process, managing the transition of new providers, and the continued rollout of the Time to Work Employment Service.
CASE STUDY: Supporting Indigenous businesses
Since 1 July 2015, over 13,700 contracts, valued at over $2.2 billion, have been awarded under the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP). All portfolios exceeded their 2018–19 IPP target. As of 1 July 2019, an additional target for the value of contracts to be awarded to Indigenous businesses will be introduced. This target will commence at 1 per cent and increase each year until it reaches 3 per cent in 2027–28.
Indigenous Business Australia has been provided with funding of $17 million to facilitate and fund the engagement of a selected bank to deliver an Indigenous Entrepreneurs Capital Scheme pilot project. The scheme will be open to growing Indigenous businesses which have been in operation for two years or more and are just below bank ready. It will enable them to access a broader range of finance products than is currently possible; to build a banking relationship and a commercial credit history; and to transition to independent, mainstream banking over the medium term.
The Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund (IEF) was a three-year program, with funding for new applications ceasing on 30 June 2019. In the 12-month period to 30 June 2019, $12.08 million was provided to Indigenous business to secure plant and equipment and create direct employment opportunities. Since the program’s inception in July 2016, a total of $37.49 million was provided to 111 Indigenous businesses.
A business incubation model, delivered in select CDP regions, is being piloted to work with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get small businesses started and support them as they stabilise. There are 12 Indigenous Remote Business Incubators as part of the 24-month pilot. This pilot represents $6 million in funding to support economic development opportunities through self-employment in CDP regions.
The Commonwealth signed a funding agreement with Wirrpanda Corporation to deliver the Western Australia Indigenous Business and Employment Hub. Work is continuing on the design phase of the Hub Operating Model, which includes consultation with local stakeholders.
Since 1 July 2018, Many Rivers Microfinance Limited has been expanding access to microbusiness support services and microfinance in regional and remote locations. As at 30 June 2019, Many Rivers Microfinance was working with 265 Indigenous businesses and 11 Indigenous community organisations from 34 locations.
PM&C worked with Deloitte to ensure a high-quality evaluation of the IPP, with the evaluation expected to be finalised and published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website in October 2019.
CASE STUDY: National Partnership on Remote Housing Northern Territory
In Australia, the highest levels of housing overcrowding occur in remote parts of the Northern Territory. About 27,600 Aboriginal Territorian residents live in overcrowded houses, and 10,700 of those are considered homeless. Good progress had been made under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (2008–18). However, the Remote Housing Review 2017 recommended that work continue to address overcrowding.
On 30 March 2019, the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments entered into the National Partnership for Remote Housing Northern Territory (2018–23) (the National Partnership), through which the Commonwealth will deliver up to $550 million in funding over five years to improve health and physical outcomes. This will be achieved by:
- reducing overcrowding by increasing the supply and standard of housing
- ensuring a role for the Land Councils in the governance of the National Partnership
- providing transparency about how money is spent
- ensuring that, to the maximum extent possible, works are delivered by local Aboriginal Territorians and businesses.
The Commonwealth’s investment is being matched by the Northern Territory Government to create a joint $1.1 billion government investment over five years. PM&C led the design and negotiation of the new National Partnership, adopting a partnership approach with the Northern Territory Government and with the four Northern Territory Land Councils to secure an agreement which will have a direct positive impact on Aboriginal Territorians.
Importantly, for the first time the Northern Territory Land Councils have a seat at the table— participating in decisions of broad policy and strategy for remote housing and monitoring of investment. This is carried out through the Joint Steering Committee that oversees investment under the National Partnership. The inclusion of Land Councils on the Joint Steering Committee provides a platform for Aboriginal Territorians to inform housing outcomes.
The National Partnership will help to reduce overcrowding in remote areas of the Northern Territory through the construction of 1,950 bedrooms—the equivalent of 650 three-bedroom houses—over five years. This is in addition to housing and refurbishments to be delivered under the Northern Territory Government’s share of investment.
The National Partnership will also accelerate the economic opportunities for Aboriginal Territorians by requiring that, to the maximum extent possible, works are delivered locally and by Aboriginal businesses. The National Partnership sets an initial minimum of 40 per cent Aboriginal full-time employment, rising to 46 per cent by 2022–23, in the delivery of capital works and property and tenancy maintenance.
In a separate one-off project that complements the work being done under the National Partnership, PM&C led the acquisition and delivery of 12 permanent houses and 10 temporary accommodation units in Borroloola to meet immediate housing need. The project will reduce overcrowding and improve living conditions for residents. These will be the first new houses built in the community in over a decade. The project is being delivered with the assistance of the Australian Army, Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal businesses.
|Criterion 3.3||Indigenous Advancement Strategy activities contribute towards increased Indigenous school attendance and improved educational outcomes.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 41)|
|Target||At least 70 per cent of funded activities within the program achieved the primary outcome KPI specified in funding agreement.|
71.83 per cent of funded Programme 2.2 activities achieved their primary outcome KPI4. Internal assessment by case study support the contribution of IAS activities to school attendance and outcomes.
CASE STUDY: Indigenous Student Success Program
The Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP) commenced on 1 January 2017 with the objective of lifting the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who succeed at university. It consolidated three former programs, and enables universities to offer scholarships, tutorial assistance and mentoring, personal support services and outreach programs in a culturally appropriate way that is tailored to suit the local needs of their students. The program was developed between 2015 and 2016 in conjunction with the higher education sector and the Department of Education and Training in response to recommendations of the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (2012).
In 2018, PM&C conducted a post-implementation review involving the higher education sector and drawing on an administration health check conducted by KPMG. The review found ISSP administrative procedures were appropriate to support the program management. In August 2018, a consultation paper was circulated to providers, peak bodies and other relevant stakeholders, including student representative groups. PM&C engaged with stakeholders on five occasions and met with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium. PM&C received 38 responses to the discussion paper from universities, peak bodies, student groups and individuals. Respondents to the review expressed support for the program and welcomed the new flexibilities.
ISSP specifically leverages mainstream policies and programs: in order to be eligible for ISSP, the 40 universities who are part of the program must demonstrate access to funding other than ISSP grants. In 2017 providers reported that the $67.5 million ISSP investment leveraged a further $70.7 million in other funding.
Since the program commenced there has been a 7 per cent increase in the Equivalent Full-Time Student Load (increasing from 11,120 to 11,876), a 7 per cent increase in the Regional and Remote Equivalent Full-Time Student Load (increasing from 4,802 to 5,128) and a 9 per cent increase in completions (from 2,166 to 2,352).
|Criterion 3.4||Indigenous Advancement Strategy activities contribute towards reduced levels of offending, violence and substance abuse.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 42)|
|Target||At least 70 per cent of funded activities within the program achieved the primary outcome KPI specified in funding agreements.|
68.14 per cent of funded Programme 2.3 activities achieved their primary outcome KPI5. Internal assessment by case study support the contribution of IAS activities to reduced levels of offending, violence and substance abuse.
CASE STUDY: Youth Through-care Model
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 25 times more likely to be held in detention than their peers, and 59 per cent of young people in detention are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Young people with complex needs often leave detention without adequate support, leading to around 80 per cent of young people released from detention returning to youth justice supervision within 12 months.
A key priority for the Government is to meet the needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families and address the risk factors that lead to offending behaviour. Central to this strategy is working collaboratively with communities, young offenders and their families, service providers and all levels of government to co-design and implement culturally appropriate and sustainable solutions. This means designing and delivering services in a partnership.
In 2017 the then Minister for Indigenous Affairs committed $10.6 million over three years to 2019–20 for the co-design, trial and evaluation of a Youth Through-care Model so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people leaving detention can return to their families and communities safely and without reoffending.
The first phase of this project has seen a period of co-design consultations to ensure the Youth Through-care Model captures the voices and experiences of the young people it aims to support; and the expertise of the service providers and of Indigenous experts in health, trauma, justice, and early childhood and youth development.
The Youth Through-care Model is underpinned by key principles that emerged through this co-design process: culturally supportive, client-centred, gender-appropriate and trauma-informed case management that empowers young people with a solid connection to culture, country and family. Part of this case management will be coordinating referrals and supporting pathways to other relevant, age-appropriate and culturally safe services.
PM&C partnered with three existing service providers in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria, and worked closely with the respective state and territory justice agencies and young offenders. Other key stakeholders included Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Elders, Indigenous communities and existing Indigenous governance bodies—for example, the Koori Caucus in Victoria.
The model was finalised, endorsed and agreed by key partners and stakeholders in April 2019. The project has now moved into the implementation phase and is conducting a two-year trial until 30 June 2021.
Appropriate feedback mechanisms have been built into this phase of the project, with Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies ethical clearance ensuring a culturally competent approach. This includes, for example, re-engaging with the young people in detention who lent their voices to the project so they are informed about how their participation influenced the development of the model.
With the aim of identifying future improvements for the model, ongoing monitoring and evaluation strategies will also be undertaken, in consultation with key stakeholders, to ensure fidelity to the model and manage any modifications to ensure the model meets the needs of all stakeholders, particularly the young people who will be supported by the model.
|Criterion 3.5||Indigenous Advancement Strategy activities contribute towards increased participation of Indigenous people in Australian society and improved capability of Indigenous organisations.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 43)|
|Target||At least 70 per cent of funded activities within this program achieved the primary outcome KPI specified in funding agreements.|
83.33 per cent of funded activities achieved their primary outcome KPI6. Internal assessment by case study support the contribution of IAS activities to increased participation of Indigenous people and improved capability of Indigenous organisations.
CASE STUDY: Multi-agency partnerships in the Northern Territory
PM&C partnered with the Northern Territory Government in establishing and implementing multi-agency partnerships (MAPs) to support local Aboriginal corporations in achieving their social and economic aspirations. The development and implementation of MAPs can engage all levels of government in a partnership approach to support and align government and community priorities.
To develop a MAP, workshops are held to identify shared priorities, and a plan is then agreed between Northern Territory Government agencies, PM&C, the local Aboriginal corporation and in some cases, local government. MAP signatories meet regularly to collaborate on and progress MAP initiatives.
The process of developing a MAP strengthens existing relationships, and the work of the MAP aligns community and government priorities to help communities realise economic and social benefits from local opportunities. Key priorities identified in a MAP may include opportunities from major infrastructure projects, targeted support for skills and training, and intensive governance and capability support.
The first MAP and implementation plan was signed with the Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation in Ngukurr in May 2018. Two further MAPs were agreed during 2018–19:
- Katherine—Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation on 2 November 2018
- Kalkarindji—Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation on 19 November 2018.
In Ngukurr, Regional Network staff continue to work closely with the Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation, identifying key economic opportunities, working to address barriers and to increase their ability to secure skilled employees.
In Katherine, Regional Network staff supported the Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation to overcome barriers, build capacity and improve their opportunities to secure contract work at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal. Further work continues to support their capacity and realise local opportunities in tourism and culture, including the establishment of a festival to recognise the 30th anniversary of the joint management agreement of Nitmiluk National Park in September 2019.
In Kalkarindji, Regional Network staff are supporting the Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation to maximise training and employment opportunities for community members in local businesses including the store, the new accommodation facilities and with local construction opportunities.
The Regional Network is working to develop a MAP at Nauiyu with the Green River Aboriginal Corporation and has also commenced negotiations for a MAP at Yarralin with the Walangeri Ngumpinku Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Territory Government.
CASE STUDY: Empowered Communities
The Empowered Communities (EC) initiative assists Indigenous communities and governments to work together to set priorities and improve services. Eight EC regions provide critical support to Indigenous leaders in implementing local shared decision-making arrangements.
As part of ongoing implementation of the Indigenous-designed EC initiative, PM&C has supported co-design processes around key priorities identified by communities in a number of EC regions, including education and employment priorities in Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands and East Kimberley. A number of co-design workshops have been led by EC leaders and backbone organisations, with representatives from PM&C, state governments, non-government organisations and community members. This approach requires government staff to move away from a more traditional project and funding management role to focus on enabling and expert advice. This has been challenging, with time required for all partners to learn how to work together in a different way.
PM&C also worked with EC leaders to co-design an EC Monitoring, Evaluation and Adaptation Framework. Challenges included developing resources that recognise and respect the diversity across EC regions. The framework is supporting continued implementation of an adaptive learning (‘learn and adapt as you go’) approach and laying the groundwork for an evaluation.
Joint decision-making and partnership tables
PM&C supported expansion of ‘joint decision making’ approaches—whereby EC leaders, with input from the community, review and provide recommendations on IAS funding. Five EC regions have now applied these approaches, assessing over 40 activities delivered by Indigenous and non-Indigenous providers. This has resulted in transition of some funding to Indigenous providers, better alignment of delivery with community priorities and feedback, and reallocation of some funding to more critical priorities.
PM&C also commenced discussions with the Department of Social Services (DSS) on how the joint decision-making approach could be extended to include mainstream discretionary DSS portfolio funding and programs that target both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
PM&C supported Inner Sydney EC leaders to undertake the first ‘partnership table’ process designed to agree a holistic response to a key community priority, ‘Early Learning and Parental Engagement’, which aimed to increase the number of Indigenous children aged 0-5 accessing child care and transitioning into primary school in the community. This resulted in brokering cross-government collaboration and mainstream funding to achieve community objectives.
In the Cape York EC region, PM&C continued working with Indigenous leaders and communities to further develop a new approach—Pama Futures. Pama Futures builds on EC and articulates an empowerment, land and economic development agenda. A key element of its design—regional and sub-regional governance structures—has been finalised, with funding to develop and implement these arrangements agreed from February 2019. PM&C has also helped to secure mainstream funding for projects associated with Pama Futures, such as the Great Dreaming Track and the Opportunity Account. The Great Dreaming Track, once complete, will be a key tourism attraction covering nearly 2,000 kilometres up the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. The Opportunity Account is a technology-based platform that leverages behavioural drivers to encourage people to make positive choices and connect with opportunities.
PM&C has been working to translate the Government’s commitment to shift to genuine partnership with Indigenous people into practical action. The Department seeks to work with leaders and communities in a way that is respectful of Indigenous leadership and supports communities to have a say in their own affairs, including by sharing relevant information and data. This means not imposing solutions but enabling locally driven action informed by evidence.
One challenge is regional-level data, which needs to be more accessible and meaningful to communities. More work is required to evolve government data systems so they can effectively support partnerships with communities at the local level.
|Criterion 3.6||Indigenous Advancement Strategy activities invest in local solutions based on community and government priorities.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 44)|
|Target||At least 70 per cent of funded activities within this program achieved the primary outcome KPI specified in funding agreements.|
66.67 per cent of funded activities achieved their primary outcome KPI7. Internal assessment by case study support the contribution of IAS activities to investment in local solutions.
CASE STUDY: Place-based practice in Yarrabah
The Far North Queensland office of the PM&C Regional Network has been applying place-based practice in partnership with the community of Yarrabah. The Regional Network has invested time in developing an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the place, the key stakeholders and the connections and relationships within the community.
PM&C has also supported the Yarrabah Leaders Forum (YLF) in its role as the leadership and local decision-making group for the community and ensured that the Department’s engagement and investments are gauged to complement the community’s priorities. PM&C works closely with the YLF, key leaders, and service providers in responding to community need, investments and implementation of services.
The collaborative working arrangements established through place-based practice created an opportunity for PM&C to work closely with the YLF to take forward a co-design approach to local implementation of the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS), which is the Australian Government’s community partnership approach to increasing the attendance rates of children at remote schools.
A broad range of stakeholders were involved in the co-design of a preferred RSAS model for Yarrabah.
The co-design recommended the local Aboriginal Medical Service as the RSAS service provider in a tripartite governance arrangement with Yarrabah State School and the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.
RSAS commenced in Term 4, 2018 and the new arrangements show early signs of positively contributing to more community emphasis on the value of education and attending school, increased Indigenous employment via the RSAS team, and greater community control and decision-making in the implementation of RSAS in Yarrabah.
|Criterion 3.7||Increased understanding of whether Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding and policies are effective. Increased research and/or existing research made more usable.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 45)|
The targets listed have been met. The 2018–19 work plan was published on 6 December 2018, and the 2017–18 work plan was published on 28 February 2018. The Indigenous Evaluation Committee was established in June 2018, and first met on 6 July 2018. The Indigenous Research Exchange was established on 20 June 2018 and is subject to design and implementation by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The first meeting of the Exchange Board took place on 26 February 2019.
CASE STUDY: Increasing the evidence base and supporting an evidence-based culture
The Department has taken steps to improve evaluation capability. Central to this has been improving capacity to commission evaluations and use evaluation findings. Examples of projects undertaken to improve capability within the Department and strengthen links with outside organisations included:
- consultation with employers, employment service providers and the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business to develop evaluation strategies for the Indigenous-specific Employment Programs and for the Time To Work Employment Service
- a data linkage project examining the ‘First Five Years: what makes a difference?’ as part of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA)—a whole-of-government collaboration. Commencing in late 2018–19, the project will include research to better understand the impact of housing stability and overcrowding in early childhood and starting school developmentally on track
- a separate DIPA project, led by the Department of the Environment and Energy, to consider how available data sources can be interrogated to better understand broader benefits of Indigenous Ranger and Indigenous Protected Area projects beyond environmental outcomes, commenced in late 2018–19
- working with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to roll out an online platform for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report. This user-friendly platform will enable more timely access to data and research to inform evidence-based policy to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
The Department’s efforts to improve evaluation capability were noted in the 2018–19 ANAO performance audit report on evaluating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs. The audit report found the design of the IAS Evaluation Framework was informed by recognised principles of program evaluation, relevant literature, previous evaluation activity and stakeholder feedback. The ANAO noted that governance arrangements to support a more evidence based culture were still being embedded. Further development of evaluation capability will take into account the need for staff to be skilled in commissioning evaluation and utilising an evidence base.
|Criterion 3.8||Efficient department support to the six Indigenous Advancement Strategy programs.|
|Source||Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (page 46)|
|Target||At least 70 per cent of relevant key performance measures in the PM&C Corporate Plan are met or are on track.|
With the support of PM&C, the IAS programs have achieved or substantially achieved their performance targets. This gives effect to the Government’s commitment to reducing red tape and duplication and ensuring that resources are invested on the ground where they are most needed through the principle of empowering communities.
CASE STUDY: Analysis of current Indigenous Advancement Strategy performance data
In 2018–19, IAS performance reporting was based on self-assessment by provider organisations. Most organisations completed new online performance reports, which included reporting against redesigned IAS performance measures, with a small proportion still reporting against legacy KPIs.
The KPIs for the IAS have been redesigned over the past 18 months to improve our ability to measure and monitor the performance of IAS activities.
The redesigned IAS performance measures include a combination of traditional service quality or outcome KPIs, as well as a number of data items, or simple counts of activity. Among other measures, all IAS grant projects report against two mandatory KPIs, relating to the employment of Indigenous Australians, and core service provision.
IAS providers report the numbers and proportion of employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the delivery of the funded project.
A total of 1,570 IAS performance reports for the period 1 July to 31 December 2018 were submitted by providers, and assessed by agency agreement managers as being satisfactory. Over this period providers reported that they had employed 15,872 people as part of the delivery of their IAS project. Of these:
- 10,507 (66.2 per cent) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
- 5,365 (33.8 per cent) were non-Indigenous.
Core service provision
Agreement Managers, mostly based in the PM&C Regional Network, review the information that service providers submit in their performance reports. They verify reported progress of IAS projects, drawing on their on-the-ground knowledge about the implementation of grant projects and the local region.
Graph 2.1 shows the proportion of IAS projects for the period 1 July to 31 December 2018 that were assessed by Agency Agreement Managers as having core service delivery which met or exceeded requirements; or were deemed to fall below requirements.
Examples of other IAS performance measures
The following infographic provides some examples of what providers have told us that IAS funding is helping them to achieve. The infographic draws upon data from the redesigned IAS performance measures, as well as Indigenous Students Success Program data.
CASE STUDY: Implementation and monitoring programs for successful delivery of IAS activities
In 2018–19, PM&C supported the Department of the Environment and Energy in assessing applications received through the new Indigenous Protected Areas Program grant round. The two departments progressed a memorandum of understanding concerning the administration of new Indigenous Protected Areas projects. PM&C advanced a number of funding agreements, including project extensions beyond 30 June 2019 (ceasing activities), new Community Led Grants and Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy projects.
Funding of $12 million was approved through the $30 million Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy. This funding will support Indigenous Rangers to transition to senior leadership roles, and provide training and development for Indigenous Ranger and Indigenous Protected Area organisations to expand their involvement in fee-for-service activities.
In March 2019, as part of the Capacity Building for the Indigenous Rangers Strategy, 21 Indigenous Rangers in Queensland graduated with their Certificate IV in Government Investigations (Regulatory Compliance).
PM&C leads three Indigenous-specific employment programs, which are measured through monthly employment commencement and 26-week employment outcomes monitoring. As at 2 June 2019, 25,444 employment commencements have been filled since 2014. The breakdown is as follows:
- Tailored Assistance Employment Grants (TAEG)—9,515 (including school-based traineeships and cadetships)
- Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC)—10,263
- Employment Parity Initiative (EPI)—5,666.
PM&C successfully contracted two additional EPI partners—Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) and Wesfarmers. Under FMG’s contract, PM&C implemented a new EPI stream focusing on improving career advancement for Indigenous employees, including the introduction of milestone payments at 52 and 104 weeks in employment.
PM&C successfully managed the transition of non-Indigenous VTEC providers to Indigenous organisations (or organisations that undertake a joint venture with an Indigenous organisation). This included 12-month contract extensions for these VTECs. PM&C commenced a number of program improvement projects that will improve the quality of applications for TAEG, such as amending the application kit to provide better upfront information to potential applicants and improving the guidance for decision-makers on the TAEG unit cost framework. These projects are designed to streamline and improve the assessment process. Six new providers have also been added to the TAEG portfolio.
PM&C has upgraded the Indigenous Employment Programs System to the Employment Services System (ESS) Web Indigenous IT System with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. The new system was launched on 1 July 2019. Comprehensive training and guidance for ESS users (including PM&C staff and providers) was provided. The new system will enable faster processing of claims and payments for staff and indigenous employment providers who currently use ESS.
3. Results as at end of June 2019 based on IAS provider reporting for the period July to December 2018, and for completed reviews only (meaning they have been assessed and accepted by the Department). For Programme 2.1, the results are for activities managed in the Grants Processing System only, and do not include a number of significant programmes delivered under Programme 2.1 via ESS, such as CDP. Further, as the PBS criteria relates to the percentage of activities which achieved their ‘outcome KPIs’, the result accounts for multiple outcome KPI results for some activities.
4. Results as at end of June 2019 based on IAS provider reporting for the period July to December 2018, and for completed reviews only (meaning they have been assessed and accepted by the Department). As the PBS criteria relates to the percentage of activities which achieved their ‘primary outcome KPI’, PM&C selected the most ‘robust’ outcome KPI where there were multiple outcome KPIs reported against for an activity.
5. Results as at end of June 2019 based on IAS provider reporting for the period July to December 2018, and for completed reviews only (meaning they have been assessed and accepted by the Department). As the PBS criteria relates to the percentage of activities which achieved their ‘primary outcome KPI’, PM&C selected the most ‘robust’ outcome KPI where there were multiple outcome KPIs reported against for an activity.
6. Results as at end of June 2019 based on IAS provider reporting for the period July to December 2018, and for completed reviews only (meaning they have been assessed and accepted by the Department). As the PBS criteria relates to the percentage of activities which achieved their ‘primary outcome KPI’, PM&C selected the most ‘robust’ outcome KPI where there were multiple outcome KPIs reported against for an activity.
7. Results as at end of June 2019 based on IAS provider reporting for the period July to December 2018, and for completed reviews only (meaning they have been assessed and accepted by the Department). As the PBS criteria relates to the percentage of activities which achieved their ‘primary outcome KPI’, PM&C selected the most ‘robust’ outcome KPI where there were multiple outcome KPIs reported against for an activity.