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Government indigenous trials a bureaucratic failure.

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media release

jenny macklin mp shadow minister for families and community services shadow minister for indigenous affairs and reconciliation federal member for jagajaga


Indigenous Australians are suffering because of the Howard Government's obsession with bureaucracy.

Independent evaluations have been damning of a new service delivery model for Indigenous communities initiated by the Howard Government. The ‘COAG trials’ were supposed to showcase co-ordination by Government agencies. Instead they show how these bureaucratic solutions have failed Indigenous people.

Labor will always encourage new and more effective ways to deliver much needed services in Indigenous communities. However, these new reports show that the COAG trials have been a failure. Not just because millions of dollars and nearly five years of energy have been invested in them, but because it has taken all this time and money to determine that the approach isn’t working.

That's nearly five years that Indigenous people won't get back. Five years that could have been spent on positive programs on the ground and building community capacity.

Labor calls on the Government to come clean on how much it spent on Departmental expenses during these trials. That money could have been spent on health, education and getting unemployed Indigenous people trained and into jobs.

Halfway through the trials, Labor released damning information that some Departments had been spending up to ten times the amount of money they spent on programs, on themselves. Now the Government refuses to disclose this information.

The Government should explain to the Australian people why it continued this approach for nearly five years, and justify the spending of all that money on itself.

Bureaucratic solutions are not going to help Indigenous people. But it appears that's all the Howard Government is capable of producing.

(see attached)

More info: Ryan Batchelor 0409 472 617

23 February 2007


• “Aboriginal people expressed their belief that the decision about the location of the Trial site had not been agreed upon with the Aboriginal community and neither was the theme of family violence agreed. The alienation felt at that time in 2003 was conveyed strongly in the interviews in 2006.” (Review of the Tasmanian trial led by the Office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination.)

• In the Department of Employment and Workplace Relation trial in Cape York, none of the stakeholders could say whether the trial was still going. There had been no activity since mid 2005.

• In the Wadeye trial, the objectives were changed three times throughout the course of the trial. The community were not aware that they had changed the third time. The review of the Wadeye trial claimed the Department had achieved nothing in relation to the key objectives of community safety and youth.

• The Thamarrurr Regional Council in Wadeye had 60 streams of income before the trial and 90 streams of income after the trial. The review of the Tasmanian trial commented that “the implementation of the new arrangements for working with governments has added stress and frustration to the work of organisations.”

• There are claims that the Commonwealth took credit for things that were happening outside the trial. For example in Balgo, the reduction in crime rates is largely attributed to the Western Australian Government's response to the Gordon Inquiry, yet Minister Brough is claiming credit for their successes.

More info: Ryan Batchelor 0409 472 617

23 February 2007