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Overcoming indigenous disadvantage.



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Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage

vIPS 003/03

I welcome today's report from the Steering Committee on Government Service Provision on Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, even though it paints a bleak picture for Indigenous Australians.

While there has been improvements in many key indicators, greater rates of improvement for non-Indigenous people, tend to mask the gains that have been made.

The report, commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments and funded by the Australian Government, is the first of its kind.

This report is important because it will help all governments focus on what is going wrong and where we can make a difference.

Governments need to change the way business is done. Hard decisions must be made.

The Australian Government has embarked on an ambitious reform program because we know that we need to do so.

The partnership approach we are taking through COAG trials in communities is providing lessons for all involved.

We will be working to get mainstream programs to do a better job for Aboriginal people and we want the states to do the same.

Moving from grant funding to contract based outcomes, addressing conflict of interest issues in ATSIC and creating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services to achieve a separation of powers will help restore confidence in service delivery.

The Productivity Commission's report also provides an opportunity to measure the impact of reforms over time. Indicators have been identified that will show whether policy changes are really making a differenece.

The report is relevant for all governments, not just the Australian Government. State and Territory governments in fact provide the bulk of programs and services for Indigenous people.

We all have much to learn from this report and, hopefully, out joint efforts will make a better future for Indigenous

Australians.

Media Enquiries: Senator Vanstone's office: Damon Hunt 0419 691 944

12 November 2003