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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
25/05/2018
Estimates
PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

[11:24]

Senator Scullion: Mr Chairman, while we're waiting, I want to make an opening statement.

CHAIR: Please, yes, Minister. I was just about to invite you to do that. Go for it. I was waiting for Professor Anderson to get to the table. I will welcome him and then we'll go to your statement, Minister. I welcome Professor Ian Anderson, deputy secretary for Indigenous affairs. I've already welcomed Mr Tongue and officers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised and which will be incorporated in the Hansard.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a) notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b) reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c) orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1) If:

(a) a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

(b) an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2) If, after receiving the officer's statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3) If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4) A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5) If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6) A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7) A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (1) or (4).

(8) If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(d) requires the Procedure Committee to review the operation of this order and report to the Senate by 20 August 2009.

(13 May 2009 J.1941)

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders)

CHAIR: Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Instead, witnesses are required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or the document.

The committee has fixed 6 July 2018 as the date by which answers to questions taken on notice are to be returned. Officers called upon for the first time to answer a question should state their name and position for the Hansard record, and witnesses should speak clearly into the microphone. Minister, would you now like to make your opening statement?

Senator Scullion: Thank you, Chair. I would like to make a short statement that gives some background to some of the measures that benefit Indigenous Australians in this budget. The budget locks in a $5 billion investment in the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which is continuing to deliver outcomes in school attendance, employment and community safety. The Indigenous Advancement Strategy is delivering great results. We successfully achieved 67,300 employment places for Indigenous Australians under the AIS and the Jobs, Land and Economy program from September 2017 to 30 April 2018, including through vocational training and education centres and our employment parity initiatives, which funds major companies to meet their job targets within their organisations.

Since the commencement of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy in July 2014, the Australian government has committed more than $400 million in activities to help over 25,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people stay engaged, complete their secondary school education and make successful post-school transitions. These activities include secondary scholarships, school based sporting academies and mentoring programs tailored for Indigenous students. The Remote School Attendance Strategy now operates in 78 schools and employs over 500 people. Of these, 95 per cent of them identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. More than 2,000 First Australians have full-time, part-time and casual jobs as a result of our investment in Indigenous rangers. When combined with the jobs created through the Indigenous Protected Areas program, over 2,900 jobs have been created.

The budget reforms to the Community Development Program will give remote jobseekers access to real wages, tailored support to support pathways to employment, and opportunities for long-term employment. By introducing the CDP in July 2015, we responded to what community leaders and elders had been saying they wanted for their people—an end to passive welfare. Communities wanted access to real jobs paying real wages, and activities that instil responsibility and give people the opportunity to do something of value for their own communities.

We needed a response that changed jobseekers' behaviour—no more sit—down money—and a response to fix the abysmal seven per cent engagement under the previous government's remote jobs and communities program. The CDP has delivered on this. Since the program commenced, it has supported remote jobseekers into more than 23,500 jobs. On more than 8,100 occasions, we tracked them staying in a job for more than six months. It's an important point because 82 per cent of them are guaranteed to be in a job in the long term. However, whilst the CDP is making progress, I've always been clear that more needs to be done to maintain momentum. When I have visited communities, I have listened to the concerns of jobseekers and community leaders. I took this feedback to government and we've taken it on board.

As part of the 2018-19 budget, this government has announced a suite of reforms to the CDP. These reforms will increase the number of people being employed in remote Australia whilst also improving the experience for remote jobseekers as they move through the program. Through these reforms, we're responding to what individuals and communities have been calling for. This will mean 6,000 of the most job ready remote jobseekers will now no longer solely rely on welfare as their only source of income. This means jobseekers will have access to real wages equivalent to the minimum wage and above, superannuation and other workplace entitlements, and an opportunity for long-term employment. These jobs will create a genuine pathway into work and off welfare.

We will also continue to support our more vulnerable jobseekers, making changes to ensure that they are not required to participate beyond their capacity. We're reducing the mutual obligation hours for remote jobseekers from the current requirement of up to 25 hours a week to up to 20 hours per week. We will also reduce income reporting requirements for some jobseekers. Jobseekers with participation requirements of less than 15 hours will now only have to report to Centrelink every quarter and not every fortnight. This will make interacting with Centrelink easier and remove penalties for not reporting on time. We'll improve jobseeker assessment processes, including making it easier to get the medical evidence to clearly identify any barriers to work. Communities are front and centre of these reforms and will be actively involved in their implementation.

From July 2018, all CDP providers will be Indigenous organisations and will work hand in hand with local communities to design and deliver activities that meet the cultural and economic aspirations of communities. Let's be clear that I continue to expect jobseekers to be standing up and participating. If they don't turn up and there's no reason for that, there will be consequences. However, this is a reform that will result in far fewer penalties. I'm convinced and confident that this suite of reforms will significantly improve CDP and deliver the reform that people have been calling for. It's this reform that will deliver a future of renewed sense of purpose for people living in remote Australia, with real wages, real skills and real jobs.

I intend to keep listening to what people want. This is particularly important as we start the process of implementing these reforms. We will work with remote communities and remote jobseekers to outline these reforms, as they will be at the forefront of how the reforms will be implemented. The input of communities and all stakeholders will be essential to ensure we can refine the detail that will sit behind each of the reforms to ensure they meet the needs and expectations of remote communities across Australia.

Finally, I'd like to address some questions from Senator McAllister to the finance minister earlier this week, in a different forum, about funding for Indigenous rangers. My announcement of $250 million over three years for Indigenous rangers is an extension of funding and was already anticipated in the forward estimates of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy as part of program 2.1, Jobs, land and economy. It is not a new or changed policy. Funding for rangers was not required to be published in the budget papers, as it's an ongoing measure. The IAS is an ongoing measure that was announced in the 2014-15 budget. These announcements were about an allocation of this funding. It is in my department's PBS, as it should be. This investment, along with capacity building for the Indigenous ranger strategy, brings the investment in Indigenous rangers to more than $640 million over eight years, providing long-term security for Indigenous rangers, organisations and their communities. The government have been a strong supporter of Indigenous rangers since we introduced the funding for the program under the Howard government in 2007. I thank the committee for allowing me to make this statement.

CHAIR: Thank you, Minister.

Senator Scullion: I'll table the statement.

CHAIR: That would be helpful. Do either Professor Anderson or Mr Tongue have opening statements?

Mr Tongue : No, thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Before I move to Senator Dodson, for the information of the committee, we'll try to move through the programs sequentially so that we can keep track of where we're up to. We're starting with program 2.1, Jobs, land and economy.

Senator DODSON: My question relates to Indigenous housing. The budget papers make it clear that there's no further funding for the National Partnership on Remote Housing from July 2018. Instead, the government will provide, as I understand it, $550 million over five years for remote housing in the Northern Territory. Minister, can you confirm that there's no funding allocation in the budget for remote housing in Western Australia, South Australia or Queensland?

Senator Scullion: You're of course right, Senator. Your question could be misleading.

Senator DODSON: You're there to enlighten me, Minister. Please do.

Senator Scullion: I will, Senator. That's our mutual task—for you to ask and for me to answer.

Senator DODSON: Absolutely.

Senator Scullion: That specific amount of funds to be provided to South Australia, Western Australia or Queensland is not in the budget. That's unsurprising since the negotiations are still afoot. The reason that the Northern Territory appears in the budget is that those negotiations have been completed. I think any observer would say that that is a tremendous outcome. The Northern Territory government—

Senator DODSON: In relation to the Northern Territory, you would have to say.

Senator Scullion: That's what I'm referring to.

Senator DODSON: I will come to some of the consultation stuff shortly. I want to get clarity. On my reading of it, there's nothing provided in the budget for any sort of allocation to Western Australia, South Australia or Queensland. I just want to get clear whether that is right.

Senator Scullion: You are right. State governments must take responsibility for public housing for all their residents, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.

Senator DODSON: I understand that, Minister. I appreciate the sentiment. Can you confirm whether any transitional funding has been provided in these jurisdictions after 1 July?

Senator Scullion: I actually have some detail. I'm not sure if I have it to hand. As with the start of most of these programs—I'm not verballing or assuming the nature of your question—NPARIH actually started building houses and money started going out, but it was not on the first day, because of the planning; there was a bit of a delay. In each of the jurisdictions, housing is not going to stop on 30 June.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, it is.

Senator Scullion: No, it's not.

Senator SIEWERT: Well, in some regions it will. I've been told that directly by organisations that are doing the construction.

Senator Scullion: Senator, the Queensland minister—

Senator DODSON: Just tell us the ones that are not going to stop. We're talking about three jurisdictions. It should be easy.

Senator Scullion: There's no jurisdiction where there's immediate cessation. In each jurisdiction, there is not only a period of time but significant funds that are yet to be expended. There are houses that are yet to be built, which will take them well beyond 30 June. In every program, there's lag time when it starts and there's a time when it goes.

Senator DODSON: The point about this is that there is no new money being allocated. They are expending a budget that was committed to previously. I understand that.

Senator Scullion: That's right.

Senator DODSON: They are rolling it over into the next year. I understand that. There is no new money committed in the budget this year for housing in those three jurisdictions.

Senator Scullion: It doesn't appear in the budget papers, but that doesn't mean that there's not money available when the negotiations have been completed.

Senator SIEWERT: Could you take on notice how much is left, then, for each state? Have you got that?

Mr Tongue : We are able to help you with that.

Senator Scullion: We want it now.

Mr Bulman : I can talk you through those figures. I can give you a dollar figure of the amount of work as well as the number of constructions. For example, in the Northern Territory, after this financial year, there's still another $45.6 million worth of construction activity to continue, which will go through to the end of December. That equals another 130 houses in that first half of next financial year. In Queensland, there's $51.27 million worth of construction activity that will continue beyond the financial year. That's 177 new houses to be completed beyond the financial year. There is one Aboriginal employment and education hostel in the Torres Strait in Queensland that will continue right through to 2019 that is included in that as well.

Senator McCARTHY: What about the apprenticeships in terms of those 177 new houses? Are they going to be ongoing with the jobs?

Senator Scullion: Well, as long as the houses are being built, one would assume there's an apprentice to build them.

Senator McCARTHY: That's an assumption.

Senator Scullion: It's a fact.

Senator McCARTHY: That's what we need to hear, Minister.

Mr Bulman : Just to confirm, we've been working with the Queensland government to maximise that schedule of work. So the Indigenous jobs and the Indigenous business opportunities will continue for a further six months. In Queensland, it's one of the largest years of construction activity out of the whole 10 years. That's spreading across 18 months, essentially.

Senator DODSON: Mr Bulman, of that 177, I think you said, of housing stock to be built—

Mr Bulman : To be completed in the next financial year.

Senator DODSON: is this new housing?

Mr Bulman : It's new houses.

Senator DODSON: It's funding that will be allocated to build new housing. Is that right?

Mr Bulman : That's correct.

Senator DODSON: Out of that, what portion is going to the Torres Strait Islands out of their need for 550 or so houses?

Mr Bulman : I will see if I have a breakdown of the Torres Strait with me. My colleague is searching through. Of the 177, there are some in the Torres Strait shire. There's a large hostel that is being built on Thursday Island.

Senator DODSON: I'm interested in that set of islands sitting north of Australia called the Torres Strait. How many houses are going to go to those people?

Senator SIEWERT: They say they've met. They are on time.

Senator Scullion: For the houses being built under this program, they were ahead of the game.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Senator Scullion: They informed me as recently as a couple of days ago that most of them have been built. I think they are down to less than five or so—

Senator SIEWERT: That's what I understand.

Senator Scullion: that are currently in construction and about to be completed. But they were the allocations provided under the previous program.

Senator DODSON: So they have no other outstanding housing needs on the Torres Strait? Is that what I'm hearing?

Senator Scullion: No.

Senator DODSON: Is that what I'm hearing that you've told me?

Senator Scullion: Perhaps I've misunderstood the question.

Senator DODSON: You may have misled me in your answer, Minister, as well.

Senator Scullion: Well, I'm trying. There are a couple of questions here. I thought the question was about how much we still have to build within the NPARIH housing—what the residual is. I have indicated that it's about four houses or so.

Senator SIEWERT: That's my understanding. So their argument is, 'We've done the right thing. We're up to speed. Now we're left in the lurch because they have no further allocation for new houses under NPARIH.'

Senator Scullion: That's a reasonable position. I've discussed this with them as part of the representations from the North Queensland Local Government Association. We are all keen to ensure that we have an outcome from the Queensland government and an agreement on this. So that's what we're all working towards. They started early because they were actually in a position to start early, I understand. When they started early, they completed that early. They are in no different position.

Senator SIEWERT: So your argument, though, is that there's money there so there are ongoing houses—and, to take it to its extent—and there's no need for us to get worried because in the meantime building is going on. In the Torres Strait, that is not correct. That's what we were told this week.

Senator Scullion: In the Torres Strait, I understand that there are still four houses under construction. So it's not a massive amount of houses under construction. They are in various stages of construction. There is a narrowing-down of that. A number of apprentices are working on those houses. This isn't in the same circumstance where there's literally 80, 90 or 100 houses suddenly coming into succession. Having visited the Torres Strait and talked to the builders and some of those apprentices, it's my view that the circumstances are not dissimilar to other places. They've known that this is a training. They know how many houses they have had to build under this. They've been the first ones to hit the end of the trail.

Senator DODSON: Mr Bulman, I want to come back to you. You were in the process of giving us an articulation of the various carryover funds in the other jurisdictions. You didn't quite get to Western Australia or South Australia. Could you tell us what that carryover fund is and how many houses it is meant to deliver?

Mr Bulman : Yes. I can continue. I will finish on Queensland. Other than the 177 new houses that will be constructed, there's one large 24-bed hostel being built in the Torres Strait that will continue until 1 December 2019, with a construction value of $7 million. In Western Australia, there's $48.79 million worth of construction activity that will continue after the end of this financial year, so 62 houses will be completed beyond this financial year. There are also 50 transitional houses that are being built under the North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund that continues out until 30 December 2021. That is being funded through NPARIH.

Senator DODSON: Let me be clear that they are the funds from the previous agreement?

Mr Bulman : Yes, that is correct, Senator.

Senator DODSON: So you're saying that Western Australia has $48.9 million to deal with the outstanding housing needs in remote parts of the state. Is that correct?

Mr Bulman : It is $48.79 million.

Senator DODSON: It is $48.79 million?

Senator Scullion: Not exactly, Senator.

Senator DODSON: I heard the nine. I didn't hear the seven-nine.

Senator Scullion: That won't deal with necessarily the shortage of housing in Western Australia.

Senator DODSON: I understand that. I just want to get it clear what is in the residual from the agreement in the state there before we go to whether there is any new money that you are prepared to provide, Minister. Could we go to South Australia, please?

Mr Bulman : Yes. South Australia is on track to continue. South Australia is a very small program, obviously. They are on track to complete their—

Senator DODSON: What is the residual amount?

Mr Bulman : The residual amount for South Australia will be $3.23 million worth of construction activity next financial year. That will be focused on completing an employment and education facility.

Senator DODSON: Minister, I will come back to you in terms of the agreement. I heard you say that there are ongoing conversations, negotiations and discussions. Before I get to that, is there provision in the contingency reserve to respond to the need for further funding in these jurisdictions?

Senator Scullion: Well, yes, there is, but I can't obviously go into any other detail because it's subject to negotiation.

Senator DODSON: You mentioned that there were funds there. I just want to know that they are. I don't want to know what the amount is just yet. We will be waiting with bated breath about that. So you're not going to tell us what is there. In your press release on budget night, you claimed that negotiations remain afoot. You say they are still afoot. Do you still remain hopeful of reaching agreement with these jurisdictions?

Senator Scullion: I'm always hopeful, Senator. I understand your question. I wouldn't be flippant about it. In South Australia, we're having some very positive negotiations at an officer level. At my next visit to South Australia, we'll be sitting down and getting to the harder end of the deal. I'm confident that that will be achieved. I've already met with Minister Tinley from Western Australia. I have to say that there were very positive outcomes in Western Australia. We're very close to being able to announce a deal in Western Australia. Queensland has been somewhat problematic. I think that's the best way I can describe it. As I said, these are ongoing negotiations and I'm very hopeful that we'll have an outcome as soon as we can.

Senator DODSON: When you say as soon as we can, does that mean before 1 July?

Senator Scullion: In terms of South Australia and Western Australia, I think that will be expedited. I'm confident it will be expedited. I'm confident because of the nature of the negotiations. When I say I'm more hopeful about Queensland, the negotiations with Queensland have been truncated and challenging. I'm saying that I'm just not sure about the level of confidence. I'm answering your question about how positive I am. I'm very confident that Western Australia and South Australia will come to a negotiated end. I'm not so sure of Queensland. I and my officers are working with Queensland as closely as we can to get the very best outcome.

Senator DODSON: Are you still working on the approach of states matching the contributions?

Senator Scullion: Yes. We are not only matching the contribution. Each jurisdiction, of course, will be an independent jurisdiction. We'll have to come to whatever agreement we can come to. A fundamental part of this has to be these jurisdictions taking up the long-term responsibilities. NPARIH was a one-off process.

Senator DODSON: A 10-year process.

Senator Scullion: It is also a process usefully designed around a number. In each community, there are so many people and there are so many dwellings. Each dwelling is how many bedrooms and those sort of things. We're able to calculate that. We've invested in NPARIH. Even if we take into consideration the investment that hasn't hit the ground yet, we know now what remains. For example, in Queensland, I think there are some 387 houses in the calculations we will not have met. In each of the jurisdictions, we're far better than we have been in the past in that we actually know what is required to get us down to no overcrowding. We expect now the jurisdictions to be making a contribution. We expect the jurisdictions to come to an agreement about what involvement Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people have in those jurisdictions and about who builds employment processes and allocates housing. This is so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are actually involved in that process, as we've articulated in the Territory one. But they are hard stand points we have to negotiate. There are wishes, but in each of these negotiations we'll have to come up with a place where we can all agree.

Senator DODSON: The report indicated that something like 2,700 homes are needed—it may be more beyond that—in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland to reduce the overcrowding. Are you confident that through these negotiations, particularly in Western Australia and South Australia—we'll come back to Queensland—you will able to sustain that sort of target or go towards that target?

Senator Scullion: Well, that's the whole idea. We're using those targets. We did the inquiry to give us a look at exactly what was required. For example, I can speak about the Northern Territory agreement. I commend the Territory government. It's quite a small jurisdiction with a total population of three suburbs in Brisbane. They've managed to match dollar for dollar. It's quite a large amount. This almost doubles the original investment. The intention from the Territory government was to say, 'Well, let's try to get in front of the curve.' We've been able to do that. As I said, that's the intent of our negotiating mandate—to ensure we have some sustainable footing into the future. It's also to ensure that the states start taking on their responsibilities for public housing provision across their jurisdiction, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. It's their responsibility, and that has to be part of the negotiations into the future.

Mr Tongue : Just for the record or in case anybody is listening or watching, you're using the updated 2016 number. That 2,700 number is the latest number.

Senator DODSON: Is that the latest number? They talk about an overall need of 5,500.

Mr Bulman : I might be able to assist.

Senator DODSON: What is the updated number—5,500 or 2,700?

Mr Bulman : The 5,500 is the number recorded in the review we did a year or so ago. That was based on earlier census data as well as some 2014-15 NATSISS data. Since the 2016 census, information has come in. We've got some updated figures. The minister was using some of them. For example, 387 additional houses are required in Queensland at 2018 to reduce overcrowding.

Senator DODSON: It would be useful if you tabled some of that. It's a bit hard to get it clear.

Senator Scullion: It would be useful if we gave it for the four jurisdictions.

Senator DODSON: Jurisdiction by jurisdiction would be great.

Mr Bulman : We'll provide those on notice.

Senator SIEWERT: And could you provide it for what year you're assessing that, too? You've said based on the 2016 census data. What are your predictions for? What year are you using for those predictions?

Mr Bulman : I will. I will be able to take on notice a prediction at 30 June 2018 based on the 2016 census data and population growth.

Senator SIEWERT: Thanks. What definition of overcrowding are you using?

Mr Bulman : I can provide that on notice with the table as well.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you.

Senator DODSON: In relation to Queensland, Minister, could you indicate where the state of those negotiations are? I understand that the Deputy Premier of Queensland has written to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister and that there's very little reciprocation from the Commonwealth. Can you clarify what is going on in relation to these negotiations? Who is conducting them? Are they going to be prospective?

Senator Scullion: I think they'll be prospective, Senator. I'm reminding myself about the very few political bones that I have that I'm putting to one side for the benefit of negotiating in the best possible way. I'm going to resist any temptations to talk about what may be the cause of these things. I just think these are the nature of negotiations. One of the challenges we have is that there has been an announcement of $1.1 billion over 10 years by the Queensland government. It's very important to ascertain what that is about. Is this new money that you're going to invest in new housing to reduce overcrowding in remote communities? In remote communities, in the NPARIH footprint, it is new housing.

I have written to Minister de Brenni to get some clarification on that. Whilst there's no mischief intended, it is to say, 'This is the amount of money we're doing on the housing we've got, if that includes things like depreciation.' It's pretty hard to keep the rain off your head with depreciation; you actually need a roof. We just want to ensure. Basically, we're asking Queensland what they are putting on the table. Some of this has been answered through the media. We would prefer a more direct discussion. I've asked the minister for some clarification on that. I am hoping that will advance our position.

The Commonwealth stands ready to continue negotiations. As I've indicated, there's no cessation, particularly in Queensland. We've got a significant investment and a significant time to roll that investment out, notwithstanding what you've indicated in the Torres Strait, which is a special circumstance. Although we have another $7 million investment around the education facility until 2019, I accept what Senator Siewert has indicated. So I live in hope, Senator. But this is the nature of these negotiations sometimes. They can be somewhat truncated, but I think we do have time, and I'm very hopeful that we'll come to a settlement.

Senator DODSON: My understanding is that the $1.08 billion is for remote housing, but I will stand corrected if that's wrong. If that's the case, on your commitment to match the funding of states or the jurisdictions, would you be committing to the same order?

Senator Scullion: Each jurisdiction will be different.

Senator DODSON: But that's money on the table.

Senator Scullion: The differences in the jurisdictions, first of all, are the differences in need. The Northern Territory had an exponentially larger need than anywhere. You've seen that. We had a slightly different approach to that. As I've indicated, I'm very grateful for the approach of the Territory government in being able to put additional funds to try to get this down. Queensland is not in that circumstance. Whilst I indicate that we will be negotiating on the basis of some transitional arrangements and funding to ensure that we continue this, at the end of the day, the negotiations are about when we get to this landing of where the need tapers out in terms of overcrowding with the number of houses that are required. We expect the Queensland government to start allocating, for example, the funds that we provide through the national partnership on homelessness, which is the principal tool for the provision of public housing. We would like to see some of those public houses actually go to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote Australia instead of inner Brisbane. So the negotiations in Queensland are vastly different because of the nature of the need for the number of houses we're dealing with. Again, we'll be negotiating in good faith. But the end of the negotiations are for the Queensland government to take up their responsibilities in the long term so we can have a sustainable process into the future.

Senator DODSON: In relation to Western Australia, what are the next steps in that process?

Senator Scullion: I will be a bit cautious simply because we're in negotiations right now. I'm not sure if it's done or whatever, but we're very close.

Senator DODSON: Are you going somewhere?

Senator Scullion: Indeed we are. We've had very positive meetings. I've met with the minister over there. I have to say it was very positive. We have a plan. We're in the exchange of letters to have a sign-off. When that has been signed off, I'll make the announcements in the normal course of events. But I'm very positive. I have to say again that it has been a delight to meet with a government that has a determination to pick up its part of the provision of houses to remote Indigenous Australians.

Senator DODSON: When you say, 'We have a plan,' are you saying there's an agreed plan between you and Western Australia? Is that right?

Senator Scullion: In Western Australia.

Senator DODSON: Yes.

Senator Scullion: Certainly. It's a positive—

Senator DODSON: But it's an agreed plan?

Senator Scullion: We are at a place where we have a plan.

Senator DODSON: Is there agreement around the plan?

Senator Scullion: You can obviously see, Senator, that I'm giving you as much information as I can.

Senator DODSON: I'm not asking for the detail of the negotiations. I just want to know whether you've got a plan when the minister in Western Australia rings up and says, 'Can you talk to the minister, because I haven't got any avenues to speak to him?'

Senator Scullion: We have an understanding.

Senator DODSON: A plan for what?

Senator Scullion: We have an understanding with the minister. We hope we are going to be able to put it in play.

Senator DODSON: So it's an understanding now. Okay.

Senator Scullion: We're hoping to put that understanding into a contractual arrangement that would reflect what we've done in the Territory or other places.

Senator SIEWERT: In the review, was the recommendation—I forget the wording exactly—for a rolling approach? Are you negotiating on the basis of an agreed number of houses and an agreed amount of money for a set term or for a more rolling approach or rolling program so you're not doing this often for however long?

Senator Scullion: For clarity, Andrew can assist.

Mr Tongue : The situation of every jurisdiction is slightly different. The number of houses needed to be completed in each jurisdiction to, in a gross sense, deal with overcrowding is different. So the Northern Territory, as the review highlighted, needs a large number of houses over a long period of time. In a jurisdiction like Western Australia or Queensland, for example, it is a smaller number of houses and a shorter time. In discussions with the other jurisdictions, we have to take into account the realities of the wet, when building can occur and the nature of communities. That all gets reflected in the funding flow. That's part of the reason why money left at the end of the agreement just reflects the reality that you can't build in the wet and we've reached those accommodations.

Certainly the review pointed to the value, from an employment perspective, of what I would call a longer, slower build. Early in the program, the jurisdictions went hard at scale to try to get a lot of houses in the most efficient way. That didn't lead to very effective employment outcomes. On reflection, and working through the review process, committing over longer periods of time to slower builds helps improve employment outcomes. It means you can get apprentices finished rather than be where we were, which was doing a community in 12 months as quickly as they can. All of that gets caught up in our discussions with jurisdictions. It's not just a money deal, if you like. Because of the Commonwealth's interest in these matters and the links that we want to make with entrepreneurship and employment and training, we tend to stay closer to the detail of this program than we might, say, with the main national housing agreement that the minister is referring to.

Senator DODSON: In terms of these rollover funds, as I call them, are you saying that the apprentices taken on by the companies and the Indigenous companies, particularly in Queensland and other places, will be guaranteed the completion of their apprenticeships with the amount of funds being provided?

Mr Tongue : Principally, it is a matter for Queensland. However, we can see money in the system, as Mr Bulman has talked about, that can be phased out. In our discussions with Queensland, we are absolutely conscious of the apprentices. The minister has met with the mayors. We have met with the mayors. We understand the problem. In a financial sense, subject to the decisions that the federal government might like to take, we are trying to work through how we can get the best possible outcome for those apprentices.

Senator DODSON: In terms of the Indigenous businesses that have also been part of the programs to date, have any of them closed or folded in the uncertainty of this, or are they still contracted to deliver?

Mr Tongue : I would have to take that on notice.

Senator Scullion: Generally speaking, they don't see that as an uncertainty because they actually have contracts for a number of houses that don't end on 30 June. In terms of the guarantee, if you take an apprentice on when there's one house left, you have another four years. The house isn't going to take four years to build and some people have to take responsibility for that. This is not the only—

Senator DODSON: Before you build a house?

Senator Scullion: I'm saying that, if you take an apprentice on in the last week of the program, we can't guarantee an ongoing process for that. I am just trying to be fair dinkum. You can't just give an overall guarantee. But we're making our best efforts to ensure that no Indigenous apprentice somehow loses their apprenticeship because the business closes down or they can't do that.

Senator DODSON: Or the funding dries up.

Senator Scullion: Maybe this is a matter for the Queensland government, the Western Australia government or, in fact, the Northern Territory. If you ask them how much and how many houses they put up from the national homeless agreement into the NPARIH area, you'll find it's a big fat zero. These are areas of the most need. They will always be ongoing because it is an ongoing national partnership program. It can put some sustainability into this process. I have been advocating as gently as I can to these jurisdictions. I would encourage others to do the same.

Senator DODSON: Have you any idea of the impact on those jurisdictions regarding the national homelessness agreement and their capacity to provide social housing for others outside the remote regions?

Senator Scullion: What I understand is that it's not done on the basis of ethnicity. The formulaic approach to the homelessness agreement is foreign to me. From what inquiries I have made, it's not based on remote or ethnic background. It's just based on the need of each jurisdiction. So it's a choice of a jurisdiction whether you build them in Perth, Brisbane or Sydney or you build and allocate those houses in other places. I suspect because of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing they thought, 'The Commonwealth are doing that there. We won't worry about it.' I can understand, perhaps, them thinking that, but it hasn't been particularly helpful because we've kept going and we're keeping up with houses. But we're not growing it in the greatest areas of need. As part of these new negotiations, I'm urging—that's the best I can do, unfortunately, because of the nature of the jurisdictional differences—that they make an allocation. If they made the allocation on need, much of it would go to those remote communities.

Senator McCARTHY: I want to put a couple of questions to you on housing in Borroloola. I will declare that, as a TO from the region, it's a place very close to my heart. The rest I'll just put on notice because I'm conscious of time. What funding was to be contributed by the Commonwealth under NPARIH for housing, for clarity's sake?

Senator Scullion: I will go to an officer for some details. I can say, Senator McCarthy, that we embargoed. There were a lot of conversations of great difficulty about land, as you know. It is very complex. But we set aside funds that were allocated. We've set those funds aside for Borroloola. They remain set aside for the—

Senator McCARTHY: So they're still there?

Senator Scullion: Yes. That's correct.

Senator McCARTHY: And how much?

Senator Scullion: We'll go to Mr Bulman for the details.

Mr Bulman : I can confirm that it's $14.6 million allocated to Borroloola.

Senator McCARTHY: When was that funding agreed to by the NT government and the Commonwealth? Was it 2011?

Mr Bulman : I may have to come back and confirm on notice. The allocations are generally agreed very early in the national partnership agreement.

Senator McCARTHY: When NPARIH expires on 30 June, will the $14.65 million still be available to the people of Borroloola?

Mr Bulman : I believe the minister has made a commitment to make that $14.6 million available for Borroloola on the basis that the Northern Territory government take secure tenure over the communities there and the community living areas.

Senator McCARTHY: So that's all you're waiting for—a confirmation of leasing?

Mr Bulman : Yes. The Northern Territory government has written to us expressing an interest to take 40-year leases over Borroloola. We've confirmed that we're happy with that approach and that the $14.6 million is available for housing when they progress those lease negotiations with the communities there.

Senator McCARTHY: Thank you, Mr Bulman.

Mr Bulman : No worries.

Senator SIEWERT: I want to move to CDP. Minister, you made some comments in your opening statement about CDP. You made some comments about real wages. Can you outline what you mean, first off, by 'real wages'? What has happened to the commitment to community wages?

Senator Scullion: Ms Lewis can go to the detail of that. Perhaps I'll start. We are referring to the opportunity to provide, instead of being effectively a work for the dole program, some sort of returned service obligation. The original CDEP was run principally by councils. Many people worked for the council. There was the notion of top-up. It varied in different places. We are emulating that and saying, 'We'll actually pay the minimum wage.' That is a subsidy to someone who wishes to take up a minimum wage. So, above that, the employer is responsible for superannuation, for the differential between the minimum wage and the award wage, depending on what the particular job is. They will be responsible for all of the normal workplace processes under an award. So it would be a fully superannuated job. Over a two-year period, the subsidy changes. It's not quite arithmetic.

Senator SIEWERT: These are your 6,000 wage subsidies?

Senator Scullion: These are the 6,000 jobs. There is an arithmetic process in that the subsidisation of that job, the amount we subsidise it by, would be 100 per cent when we start. Then that subsidy would devolve over a two-year period. The employer would take up the differential. That would be a contracted circumstance. That has to be a contracted circumstance subject to the subsidy being provided. That is for the demographic of 6,000 jobs. So moving people into those 6,000 jobs will take a bit of time. At the end of that two-year period, that individual will be a full-time employee as they are anyway. The only differential, which of course the employee will not be aware of, is that the Commonwealth will have nothing to do with the subsidisation of that process. We know that, in that lead-in, they'll be there for two years. They are a great employee and hopefully they'll move on.

Senator SIEWERT: So what modelling have you done to show that the economy in these areas is going to pick up to the extent that those jobs are actually going to be viable after just two years?

Senator Scullion: I will go to Ms Lewis in a moment. There are plenty. You would know, Senator, from your travels in remote Australia that there are plenty of services that are not being provided in Aboriginal communities. I'm talking about things like Home and Community Care packages and aged, care packages. The reason they are not being provided is people say, 'Well, we can't find the staff there.' It is the normal whatever it is. I think there are plenty of jobs out there and service provision out there. Again, the challenge is around having an employer starting with someone who may have some barriers to employment and certainly may not be a very experienced employee because of the levels of unemployment. We're offsetting that by providing a subsidy over a period of time that allows them to become a productive employee. Whilst generally the economy is without a doubt of the lowest churn and the opportunities for employment are much lower, if we look carefully at the services not being provided and other opportunities for growing the economy, as well as other investment the government makes, I think that we can see a growth in those areas.

Senator SIEWERT: I do not agree with you often. On the care economy I do.

Senator Scullion: Mark that down!

Senator SIEWERT: But you need a strategy for it.

Senator Scullion: It's a one-off.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes. Exactly. You need a strategy for it.

Senator Scullion: Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: You need a strategy to develop the skills for the workforce et cetera, for NDIS and for the delivery of human services.

Senator Scullion: That's exactly the area we're looking at.

Senator SIEWERT: Where is your strategy that actually looks at where the jobs are in terms of aged care, the NDIS et cetera, the locations and then how you build their skills? Just lobbing a subsidy in there is not going to deliver the outcomes.

Senator Scullion: Indeed. Usually in this place it's chicken-and-egg stuff. I'm constantly reminded that we are starting this strategy. We need to get this legislation through parliament so you're actually able to do these things. I said okay. But it is a good time. It is a good time. Despite the 60-plus expressions of interest that seem to have Arnhem Land in them from organisations based in Sydney, we are working with local Aboriginal organisations to have the NDIS delivered in their community. I think with regard to the strategy you speak of, we are speaking with departments about exactly how we work out those—

Senator SIEWERT: A human services strategy, in other words?

Senator Scullion: Indeed. I can't deliver you a strategy. Perhaps Mr Tongue can assist me with that.

Mr Tongue : We've been working closely with the Department of Social Services and the NDIA for some time on the rollout of the NDIS. We have, in many of our remote offices, NDIA staff based in those offices. One of our early successes has been in East Arnhem Land, where we've been able to work with the NDIA to train a number of local coordinators to roll out the NDIS. We're continuing to work with DSS and NDIA on the rollout in remote Australia. We see that as being a key part of the job network.

One of the challenges that we're working on is what I'll call the infrastructure to support service delivery. By that, I mean that in remote Australia there aren't that many care businesses that might qualify. The department is having conversations with the Indigenous controlled health organisations. There was also a change recently to the fee schedule. I haven't given that document the right name. It changes some of the fees that apply to remote Australia to slightly shift the economics. We anticipate that we'll continue to work in that NDIS rollout. It does look very prospective. The advantage of those care jobs is that many of those care jobs are not what I would call the high-end professional suite of jobs. They are jobs where you might qualify with a certificate III or certificate IV, that kind of range. We're hoping that as part of the 6,000 jobs initiatives we will be able to land many of those jobs in the NDIS.

Senator SIEWERT: Are you doing the same for aged care? Is there a strategy across both?

Mr Tongue : Yes. Our colleagues in Health sit with us in this conversation around the NDIS. We are continuing to work on those issues. I should also say that, in a metropolitan context, it is where we also see, naturally enough, that there are significant employment and economic development opportunities.

Senator SIEWERT: I know we are going to run out of time. We are still only at the jobs and economy component of this section. Can I ask you to take on notice a detailed outline about how the subsidy program is going to work, please. I want to go to the shift to what I call the demerit points system. What are your projections? A significant change to the legislation passed earlier this year, where CDP was excluded from the new compliance framework. In terms of your calculations, how many people do you anticipate are going to be subject to compliance failures under the new process?

Ms Lewis : It might help if I explain the difference between the current compliance framework and the targeted compliance framework if CDP participants were to become part of that framework. You might be aware that, in order for that to occur, a legislative instrument needs to be put forward for CDP participants to become part of the targeted compliance framework. In addition, changes need to be made to the social security administrative act so that the 6,000 jobs component is excluded from that targeted compliance framework.

Senator SIEWERT: Could you speak up a little?

Ms Lewis : Sorry.

Senator SIEWERT: For the 6,000?

Ms Lewis : For the 6,000 jobs subsidy package, that group will be excluded from the targeted compliance framework.

Senator SIEWERT: If they are jobs, surely they will be excluded because they are jobs. Are you saying that they are still going to be on some form of payment? They will all remain on some form of payment?

Ms Lewis : There is the potential for them to also be still receiving a benefit. It depends on the wage that they are receiving. Under the current program, you might be aware that, if a CDP participant has three no-show, no-pays, that immediately triggers a compliance assessment. Under the new model, it's a five-point penalty system, if you like. It is called a demerit system.

Senator SIEWERT: It's a point demerit system. Once you pass the fourth, you then go into a process of one week off, two weeks off, three weeks off for points five, six and seven?

Mr Denny : Five. It's five demerit points.

Ms Lewis : Five. It's five demerits.

Senator SIEWERT: Sorry?

Mr Denny : It's after the fifth demerit point that jobseekers enter into what is called that penalty zone.

Senator SIEWERT: You have one week off at the fifth demerit point. At the sixth, you have two, and at the seventh, you have four.

Ms Lewis : I want to take you through it from the beginning. After three demerit points, a CDP participant would have a compulsory assessment with the service provider.

Senator SIEWERT: So you are applying them to the demerit point system but a separate one to that that applies anywhere else?

Mr Denny : No. This is a national system.

Ms Lewis : This is a national system.

Mr Denny : If in place, it will be consistent nationally.

Ms Lewis : If you like, Senator, it might be useful for us to table that for you.

Senator SIEWERT: That would be useful.

Ms Lewis : If you reach the five demerits, you then have an assessment with the Department of Human Services. That assessment is really to identify whether your work capacity needs to be changed. So I guess it's to identify if somebody should be coming to work and they're not, and/or whether, in fact, they need more support to help them actually come to work.

Senator SIEWERT: And you get a week's demerit?

Ms Lewis : After that, if you don't come to work, you are docked 50 per cent of your fortnightly payment for the first failure without a reasonable excuse.

Senator SIEWERT: Keep going. This is answering another question that I need to ask on employment.

Ms Lewis : As you know, this is their program, which we are implementing. Yes, next week will be a good time to ask them questions. After a second penalty, you are docked a full fortnightly pay for a second failure without reasonable excuse to attend.

Senator SIEWERT: Sorry, but could you say that again?

Ms Lewis : Once you have had the five demerit points and you have had the two assessments and you have had 50 per cent of your fortnightly pay docked because you've not had a reasonable excuse, you move into that second point, where the full pay is docked. After that, if there's a further unreasonable excuse or a failure to attend with a reasonable excuse, your pay is cancelled for four weeks.

Senator SIEWERT: Which is what I said. A week, two weeks and four weeks—that's how it was explained to me in documentation earlier. You are choosing to reformulate the words. You're still missing a week's worth, two weeks worth and four weeks worth?

Ms Lewis : Yes. I think the point I was trying to make with you, though, is that there are things in place before you get to that. You don't automatically get to that point when you're docked that.

Senator SIEWERT: I understand that. With all due respect, it's just prettying up the language of 'you only lose 50 per cent' when it's a week's worth of income support.

Ms Lewis : I'm just trying to be precise.

Senator Scullion: You are talking about income support. People who are listening may not have the knowledge that you have. We are just simply saying that there's a lot more. It is, 'Look, okay. You get another chance. You get five days of this,' which wasn't available before.

Senator SIEWERT: Right. Thank you.

Ms Lewis : No problem.

Senator SIEWERT: Have you estimated how many people on CDP you expect will be subject to failures at points five, six and seven?

Ms Lewis : No.

Senator SIEWERT: You haven't?

Ms Lewis : The department of jobs has done some modelling, but it's not based on the behaviours that we expect to change with the improvements to the program. So we can't guess what the change in behaviours will be. For example, if we are in the reform part of the package, and, if you are in the zero to 14-hour requirement, you will have less contact with Centrelink. Therefore, you're going to be less likely to be receiving a penalty that you would currently receive. Until we work through the micro detail of that in the next few months, I think it's just not appropriate to guess those numbers.

Senator SIEWERT: So what modelling has been done? You referred to modelling. What modelling has been done?

Ms Lewis : The Department of Jobs and Small Business has done some modelling to help with the costing process of the cabinet submission.

Senator SIEWERT: What was the modelling around, then? If it wasn't around that?

Ms Lewis : It would have been based on the application of the framework outside of remote Australia.

Senator McCARTHY: So that was your advice to cabinet? You said the modelling was done in a cabinet submission. Obviously that's your advice to cabinet?

Ms Lewis : I can't say what advice was given in that regard. I want to clarify that it was in terms of understanding the cost to the system changes that might be required if they need to be made for the TC F or CDP.

Senator McCARTHY: Senator Siewert is trying to get to the bottom of your modelling analogy. You've obviously used something to get to that particular outcome. So your advice to cabinet—

Ms Lewis : Can I take that on notice? I think it would be inappropriate for me to talk about modelling that has been done by another department. I would prefer to take that on notice and come back in a written form to you with that response.

Senator Scullion: We can take that on notice inasmuch as we can ask the other department within the time frame to provide it to you. We consider it has been asked here.

Senator DODSON: What role is Centrelink going to have in all of this new architecture that you're developing? That would be a useful thing to know.

Senator Scullion: With the greatest respect to Centrelink, the less, the better.

Senator DODSON: Thank you, Minister. That's all I needed to hear. We will move on.

CHAIR: Any further questions? I know senators had some in this area.

Senator McCARTHY: Yes, I do. Modelling shows how many participants would lose income and the volume of income they would lose under the new demerit scheme. Do you have that?

Ms Lewis : Not with me, Senator, but, as I said, we can talk to the department of jobs to see if we can table that.

Mr Denny : What we do know is that, for most of those penalties applied in the last quarter, most jobseekers receive less than four penalties. So, if you apply that to this framework, most of those jobseekers wouldn't reach, that penalty zone based on that data alone.

Senator Scullion: The five warnings is the last lot. Most people were under four who were in the recidivist group, so they wouldn't have got to that penalty group.

Senator SIEWERT: In terms of no show, no pay?

Mr Denny : Correct.

Senator Scullion: Yes. That's right.

Senator McCARTHY: But what about the ability to waive penalties? How is that going to work?

Senator Scullion: Well, it's normally done under the reasonable excuse process.

Senator McCARTHY: And who has the ability to waive penalties?

Senator Scullion: The provider.

Senator McCARTHY: Who will have the ability?

Senator Scullion: It will be the provider in most circumstances. What remains of that in Centrelink I'm not really sure. But their obligation is much reduced.

Senator McCARTHY: So not Centrelink, Minister?

Senator Scullion: Say again?

Senator McCARTHY: So not Centrelink? It will be the organisations that provides—

Senator Scullion: There will be a split in the demographic. There are those who are working. Usually those with a 20-hour obligation will be working for a provider. The provider has to indicate, as a quasi employer, I suppose, as it was with the original CDP, that they ascertain that. So they are in a position, for example, to have much more cultural competence about whether or not something is a reasonable excuse.

Senator McCARTHY: But will that be universal, or is it only case by case?

Senator Scullion: I would need to seek some clarification about some of those who are still with Centrelink. But normally they have either zero or very low obligations—they might have an hour or something like that—

Senator SIEWERT: It is zero to 14.

Senator Scullion: they would still be with Centrelink. I'm not sure what the obligation in terms of breaching is going to be exactly. I do know that there's going to be a far different approach to those people who still remain in Centrelink because they are not really in an effective job because of a diminished work capacity.

Senator McCARTHY: Have you worked out the percentage of who will be decided under Centrelink as opposed to those who will be decided in terms of waivers with organisations?

Mr Denny : I just want to clarify that DHS in the current model and in the new model is the only agency that can apply that penalty or waive a penalty. The service provider—

Senator McCARTHY: The minister just said that, in the new model, the providers would have that capability.

Mr Denny : The provider has the capability to determine whether the jobseeker has a valid reason for not attending. That's where its discretion lies. After a jobseeker experiences three of those demerit points, the jobseeker undertakes a capability interview. That determines whether the jobseeker has any other barriers that prevent them from—

Senator McCARTHY: Who conducts the capability interviews—Centrelink or the provider?

Mr Denny : The provider conducts the first one after three demerit points and then DHS conducts the second one, which is after five demerit points. So the provider—

Senator McCARTHY: So Centrelink still ultimately has the final say here for all CDP participants?

Mr Denny : Before they enter into that third zone, which is that penalty zone, earlier in the process, after a jobseeker has those three demerit points, a provider is required to have a capability interview and along the way discuss those demerits with the jobseeker. But, at that capability interview, they determine whether there are other barriers that prevent that jobseeker from meeting their mutual obligations. If they determine that the job plan wasn't right and hasn't been constructed right or there were errors in their job plan or new evidence comes to light which suggests that this person doesn't have the capability to meet their mutual obligations, the provider can return that jobseeker to what is called the direct green zone and it resets their—

Senator McCARTHY: This is very complicated, Mr Denny, for a Work for the Dole scheme. One of the biggest difficulties—I know we have had this conversation with the minister—is the breaching that takes place across the country, leaving people without any money for over two months almost and the ramifications that that has. What I'm trying to understand here is the role of Centrelink. We've just heard the minister say that he would like to see as little as possible Centrelink involvement. But you're saying otherwise—that Centrelink will still have the final say in terms of the waivers of who can receive their pay and who can't.

Mr Denny : Yes. Ultimately, because it's income support, DHS or Centrelink are the ones who ultimately determine whether a penalty is applied.

Senator McCARTHY: It sounds like possibly more steps that could relate to harsher breaches. Is that correct?

Mr Denny : The way the framework is designed is actually to prevent someone moving into that zone. So it gives the provider more interaction. At the moment, under the current framework, if a jobseeker doesn't turn up, there's an immediate penalty. Under this framework—

Senator McCARTHY: But you're just adding layers. You're adding more layers of bureaucracy for the participant to be jumping through those hoops.

Mr Tongue : This takes it away. We are trying to have a zone at the front, if you like, that is just the provider and the participant rather than the provider, the participant and Centrelink.

Senator McCARTHY: But when they are in the penalty zone that sounds like it's harsher.

Senator Scullion: I don't understand where you get that from the information that has been provided. The initial upfront is it's about the provider. To stay in the green zone, all you have to do is ring the provider and say, 'I've provided a reasonable excuse.' It's nothing to do with Centrelink. There's none of those processes to stay in the green zone. But if people are falling out of that, whilst there's no real evidence around it, we want to be sure that people are in the right category so they actually are supposed to be providing 20 hours, not a reduced number of hours. That still has nothing to do with Centrelink. So we can go through that again and ask, 'What are the reasons for you not being able to do something?' It's only with the provider and still in the green zone. It's still really without a breaching arrangement.

Senator SIEWERT: Who does the capability assessment?

Mr Denny : There are two. The provider does the first one.

Senator SIEWERT: That is at point 3?

Mr Denny : That's at point 3.

Senator SIEWERT: What about at the start of the process?

Mr Denny : At the start of the process, it depends on how a person enters the system. There are a couple of forms of assessment.

Senator SIEWERT: It's done the same way as it's done for every other jobseeker?

Mr Denny : Correct. So there's a jobseeker classification instrument that the provider can do.

Senator SIEWERT: That's not done by the provider?

Mr Denny : It can be done by the provider or DHS. That is the JSCI. If additional barriers are identified, they can be referred to an employment services assessment, an ESAt, which, with medical evidence, can reduce the person's mutual obligation requirements. This reformed model, I guess, makes that assessment process easier in how medical evidence is collected. We are hoping that we will be able to get a more accurate assessment of a jobseeker in a remote area when they undertake that ESAt because we will be allowing different forms of medical evidence to be provided.

Senator SIEWERT: I am aware of the time. Can you take on notice what the new process is going to be and what the different forms of medical evidence are? Will that apply to all jobseekers or those that are participating in CDP?

Ms Lewis : It's only for CDP. At the moment, only doctors can provide the medical evidence. What we will be moving to is allied health professionals, including community nurses, and input from the CDP providers themselves to all feed into that ESAt. I think another couple of things to keep in mind is the reduction from up to 25 hours per week of mutual obligation to 20. It came out strongly through the Senate inquiry, through the ANAO report and other information that we needed to look at the mutual obligation hours.

Senator SIEWERT: It's still different to the broader Work for the Dole program?

Ms Lewis : You are correct.

Senator SIEWERT: The Senate inquiry said it should be the same.

Ms Lewis : The other change there is the income reporting requirement for that zero to 14 group. They'll no longer have to report fortnightly if they're earning an income. They'll only need to report quarterly. So we are trying to reduce the touch points with Centrelink along the way as part of the reform package.

Senator McCARTHY: I just want to go to—

CHAIR: We have about seven minutes before the lunch break. I know Senator Stoker has questions.

Senator McCARTHY: This will be the last question.

CHAIR: All right. Then I'll hand to Senator Stoker.

Senator McCARTHY: I have found the explanation confusing. I might—

Ms Lewis : Around the targeted component?

Senator McCARTHY: Just in terms of the way the structure works for a participant when someone walks in and needs help, there are so many complications, from what I am hearing here. I want to understand. There hasn't been an increase in funding. So, according to the ANAO, funds allocated to CDP over the last three years have averaged $437.7 million per annum. The 2018-19 budget refers to a commitment of $1.1 billion over four years. That is $275 million per annum. What is the reduction there of $159.7 million per annum?

Ms Lewis : It's an outcomes based program. That's a notional allocation. That number reflects the number of participants in the program during that period. So it's not necessarily a difference in how much money is allocated to the program. It reflects how many people are in the program.

Mr Denny : And the number of outcomes achieved. So that is the number of 13- and 26-week outcomes we pay out on.

Senator McCARTHY: Thank you.

Senator Scullion: I am aware that you are tight on time. I think you sound like you deserve and require perhaps more time on the CDP. I'm happy to work, through the committee and the department, to have a separate time during the week or the next set of sittings or something if you would like to sit down with the department and continue. I think that is really important, and I'm aware of that.

Senator McCARTHY: Thanks, Minister.

CHAIR: I'll go to Senator Stoker now. Senator, you have up until the lunch break. If you have more questions, we might have to come back to them when we return from the lunch break.

Senator STOKER: Certainly. I know there are some people in the room who have a lot of background on this. I want to put a few things on the record, if that's okay. What is the level of engagement in CDP activities? How does this compare to the end period of the Remote Jobs and Communities Program?

Senator Scullion: I can probably help in general terms if someone else has those sorts of figures to hand. My best recollection is that one of the measurements is attendance at an activity. My best recollection—the officers might correct me—is that at the end of the RJCP it was around seven per cent. My best recollection is that we're now at 75.4 per cent, but I might stand corrected on the detail.

Ms Lewis : I'm not sure that I have previous data, just current data.

Senator STOKER: You can take it on notice if you would prefer.

Ms Lewis : Yes. I'll definitely do that. Minister, I think you're correct in terms of the current data. Can you explain to the committee how work-like activities support jobseekers into employment in a local labour market?

Senator Scullion: One of the most important things in life is confidence. If you're used to getting up and your day starts when the sun gets up and you get your boots on and have a shower and go off to work, it is a different day than if you are living in a house where it's cooler at night so you engage socially through the night and you get out of bed at about 10 o'clock. It is every day changing habits. The normal day in terms of business and employment starts early in the day. Readiness for employment is about establishing many of those norms and supporting people in those norms. An example is having the right amount of safety gear. If you haven't got the right gear, you're not allowed on the work site. It is these sorts of things.

It is supporting people with all these basics for the work site—transport and all these sort of things. They are very difficult for individuals in the community who haven't been going to work. The notion is, 'I'll just get a lift with me mate.' That's just not the case in many of these areas. So it's supporting people and having a plan for the day about how you get there—all those sorts of things. It is very important in terms of pre-employment circumstances. It is so we are actually work ready. I guess that's just one example.

Much of the work provides great purpose to people. I've spoken to people. They're working in this role that they haven't worked in before. It's quite exciting. They feel very proud of themselves. Their family feel proud of them. In places where you don't have a lot of engagement from time to time, an individual may not have had that level of purpose in their life. They have this purpose. Many communities talk about the evil of sit-down money. That's been the context of that term. This moves away from that because people can feel proud often, some of these tasks, of giving back to the community. These are assisting the community. They are very proud of that, as are the community. That helps people in themselves know that this is worthwhile.

The skills that they get are often interactive skills. We must not make assumptions about the mainstream. In very remote Australia, many of these people who participate in CDP have not been in formalised full-time employment. This enables them, when full-time employment comes to bear—it might be a mine or something else—to be able to go with some confidence into that new environment. It would be very difficult to go from the before-work environment into that environment. It would be too big a step. Having worked in those environments, I think, enables them to take that next step quite swiftly into employment when an opportunity comes.

Senator STOKER: So how many jobs have remote jobseekers achieved under the CDP?

Ms Lewis : Between 1 July 2015 and 30 April 2018, 24,190 employment places for over 17,700 jobseekers.

Senator STOKER: How do the reforms to the CDP that were announced in the 2018-19 budget improve the pathway to employment for these jobseekers?

Ms Lewis : I think the package is in two parts. There is an improvement package to change some of the settings in the current program to look after the most vulnerable people in the CDP program and to provide opportunities for people to move into employment through a job subsidy program. We think that they are two key elements for further improving the existing program.

Senator STOKER: Okay.

Senator Scullion: In addition to that, I think we've done better at engagement programs to pull together things like the vocational employment program, VTEC, and our Indigenous employment programs with bigger businesses. Their engagement and our understanding, as these new initiatives come to bear, of how they can affect the CDP participants assists them to move into jobs. Whilst much of the big boom in the mining industry has passed, we have managed to move many people into full-time employment through some of those other engagement programs that we have.

CHAIR: We are right on the time for lunch, so we'll come back in 45 minutes at 1.30 pm and you can continue your questions then, Senator Stoker.

Proceedings suspended from 12 : 46 to 13 : 30

CHAIR: Good afternoon. The committee will now resume. Senator Stoker, I think, had one clarifying question from 4 but then was going to put the rest of hers on notice. Senator Siewert also had a clarifying question. I think we'll then move to other programs in the outcome.

Senator STOKER: Are subsidised jobs under the CDP real jobs with the same employment conditions as any other job?

Senator Scullion: Yes, they are. In effect, we are making a minimum payment. We are paying the minimum award payment. The employer, under a contractual arrangement—so, not by choice—will pay, whilst receiving the subsidy, the differential between the minimum award payment and the award payment that would be around the particular award that those activities are in. They would also be expected to pay for all of the normal work processes because eventually these individuals are going to end up as a full-time employee. They'll get superannuation and holiday pay in exactly the same way that any other Australian would in a normal workplace.

Senator STOKER: Thank you very much for clearing that up. I know that there is sometimes a bit of misinformation about that. The rest of my questions I will put on notice.

CHAIR: Senator Siewert.

Senator SIEWERT: Is the process of the providers, when they do their reassessment, appealable? Is any decision made by the provider appealable?

Senator Scullion: I will get some clarification. The one that is done by the provider is a discussion to see what you think. It's not something where the provider says, 'I think you can do five' and somebody else says, 'I can only do half an hour or four hours.' It's having a conversation about perhaps one of the reasons that you're not able to attend as often or as frequently as you can is because of something I don't know. So the provider's process is really by consent—to come to an agreement with someone—rather than them having to dictate. That's why there are two processes at hand. In terms of the detail, Ms Lewis might be able to assist.

Ms Lewis : I don't know whether it's appealable. We'll try to find out in this session. If not, we'll take it on notice.

Mr Denny : I can clarify that. Jobseekers will continue to be able to appeal any financial penalties, first, internally through DHS and then through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Tongue : That doesn't help your question.

Senator Scullion: That doesn't help with your question?

Senator SIEWERT: No.

Senator Scullion: We understand. Can we take that on notice?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Senator Scullion: And if somebody out the back understands, as usual, we'll come forward before the end of today.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you.

[13:33]

CHAIR: We now need to move on to program 2.2, Children's schooling, or do we still have questions on 2.1?

Senator DODSON: We have no further ones. We have questions for 2.2.

CHAIR: Okay.

Senator DODSON: Thank you. Minister and staff, my questions are about out-of-home care matters. How many First Nation children are currently in out-of-home care?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I don't have the exact figure with me. I will ask if Ms Saastamoinen, the assistant secretary, has the figure.

Senator DODSON: Did you say you don't have the figure?

Ms Hefren-Webb : No, but my colleague Ms Saastamoinen may have the figure. I'm just checking with her.

Ms Saastamoinen : I don't have the figures on me, but I can get someone to give them to me, if not by the end of today, then on notice.

Senator DODSON: Thank you. Can you break those figures down into states and territories?

Ms Saastamoinen : Yes. We will do what we can with the figures that we get.

Senator DODSON: I presume there are First Nation figures and there are non First Nation figures. Can you make sure that bracket is also covered?

Ms Saastamoinen : Yes.

Senator DODSON: What is the current government's expenditure on child protection and family support services?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The federal government, as you know, has no direct powers or authority about child protection.

Senator DODSON: I'm not talking about powers. I'm talking about spending here. Are you spending any money or not?

Ms Hefren-Webb : If you are talking about expenditure on family and children's services, we can provide you with figures for this portfolio. But the vast majority of spending would sit in the Department of Social Services, which runs family and community programs as well. You may wish to raise it at their estimates next week.

Senator DODSON: If they don't, we will.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Sorry?

Senator DODSON: If they don't, we will.

Senator Scullion: Just for completeness, we're not able to provide you with what the states and territories provide. The child protection system is fundamentally a structure of the jurisdictions. Potentially the committee can write to each of those jurisdictions to find out what they spend on it. But I can say that from the IAS, in terms of more generally making communities safer and all those areas, we pay $264 million. We should be able to provide the child protection service numbers, not only the funds. That will be provided to us from the states and territories.

Senator DODSON: My question is more specifically about the out-of-home care space and what is being done by the Commonwealth to resource or fund anything in that domain.

Ms Hefren-Webb : We don't directly fund organisations to manage children in out-of-home care. That will all be done by the states and territories. We fund a range of initiatives aimed at early intervention with families to prevent children going into out-of-home care. We also fund organisations like SNAICC, who do policy work and advocacy around preventing children going into out-of-home care and improving practices and so forth. So that's really our role. We don't have any direct funding going to the out-of-home care system.

Senator DODSON: I'm following up on the Closing the Gap conference that was held, where delegates asked about a target to reduce the rate of First Nation children in out-of-home care, given that they are COAG goals or they are mutually agreed goals. I'm not sure even where those goals are at the moment, but I'll come to that.

Senator Scullion: I have written to the first ministers in every jurisdiction. We have had discussions on this matter. I guess you should take some credit for that. I've asked them and urged them to address the issues of overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child protection. I've made it clear that I'm also keen to hear from them about what opportunities they may see for a collaborative effort between our governments.

Senator DODSON: I'm not wanting to jeopardise any confidentiality, Minister, but is it possible to have the letter tabled at some point?

Senator Scullion: Usually the process would be to check, but I'm quite sure I will be able to get that. Where we can, we will. I will check for those letters.

Senator DODSON: It would be very helpful, thank you, Minister.

Ms Saastamoinen : Senator, can I just add that the Productivity Commission's report on government services has some information on what the states and territories are funding in terms of child protection and out-of-home care. We can also provide you with links to that report as well.

Senator DODSON: Thank you. My interest is a bit narrow just at this point. Is the target of reducing the out-of-home care situation an agreed target? I know it's part of the Closing the Gap Refresh discussions. But is it becoming more likely that this will be a federally agreed target?

Senator Scullion: I don't really think at this stage we can comment on that. This is about negotiations. People are toing and froing about these matters. I'm not sure that we can get anything that would really assist because we still have some way to go in those matters.

Senator DODSON: But I thought it was a clear position put from the consultations back in February that this become a target.

Prof. Anderson : The process in February was really to identify the priorities. Child protection was one of those priorities. It was to then further test them through the engagement process. The first bit of that engagement process was completed in late April. There was a really consistent focus around child development and child protection and other areas that were consistent with a special gathering. We are now working through the next phase, which is to think about what that means in terms of the design of the target system. One of the key principles that we are trying to build into the system is that this is a shared system between the Commonwealth and the states so that, around particular priority areas, it may be that the Commonwealth actually sets a target that aligns to what we do in that area of responsibility. One of the things that we do, as my colleague Ms Hefren-Webb shared, is work around prevention, early intervention and child development. We will then need to negotiate over the next few months leading up to October how we align those targets to identify the best way forward in terms of the priorities. So we're still in the middle of that process. I think that we are aiming to have an agreement by October.

Senator DODSON: I want to come to the comments made by the children's minister, David Gillespie, in March this year, when he said that he would push for states and territories to consider more open adoptions for Indigenous children. The comments unleashed, obviously, a train of ill-informed and racist media commentary. Did Minister Gillespie discuss his comments about making it easier for First Nations children to be permanently adopted by non First Nations families before he made that statement, Minister? Did he consult with you?

Senator Scullion: What I can tell you is that, no, he didn't consult with me. But I have no idea—I haven't had a conversation—who else he spoke to. But, no, he didn't speak to me.

Senator DODSON: He said on SBS that he would be discussing it with you. So he has not taken it any further?

Senator Scullion: No, he hasn't.

Senator DODSON: Has the government considered somehow interfering with the placement principles that are there for Indigenous placements?

Senator Scullion: No. Whether it's a temporary placement or any sort of placement, the child placement principle is a good principle and we have no intention of changing it. The last statistic is from 2016-17, when there were four adoptions of Aboriginal children by a non-Indigenous family. That's an adoption in 2016-17.

Senator SIEWERT: Across Australia?

Senator Scullion: Across Australia. Which is very different to most of the adoptions—a formalised, full-time adoption.

Senator DODSON: I will return to that maybe in a minute. Can you tell me what percentage of children in each state and territory are placed with Aboriginal families, or First Nation families?

Senator Scullion: I can tell you that the Australian figure is 68 per cent of Indigenous children apply to the child placement principle. They are placed with an Indigenous family and adhere to that principle. Of course, the principle has the general exemption about the safety of the child. I am sorry that I can't recall the exact words, but the placement principle is that it will be an Indigenous family or an Indigenous group unless it impacts on the safety of the child. So it is 68 per cent across Australia. Perhaps the officers can provide me with a state-by-state breakdown.

Senator DODSON: What is the figure you are talking about? Is it 16,000? Are you talking about 68 per cent of 16,000?

Senator Scullion: I might even have to be corrected on the figure. I'm pretty sure I'm right. It's 68 per cent of children who are placed in out-of-home care are placed with an Indigenous family.

Senator DODSON: Okay. So that could be very small. I appreciate you getting the figures. Can you tell me what percentage of the 16,000 or 18,000 children who are in out-of-home care now are being placed with Aboriginal families?

Ms Saastamoinen : That's the 68 per cent.

Senator DODSON: Well, I thought the minister was giving me a different answer.

Senator Scullion: No, sorry, that was the 68 per cent.

Senator DODSON: You said those who were applying for it.

Senator Scullion: My apologies. I didn't mean that. But that is a straight answer to your question.

Senator DODSON: I understand that, but I was asking a different question. How many of all of those people—

Ms Saastamoinen : All of those children in out-of-home care—

Senator DODSON: yes—are being placed with First Nations people?

Ms Saastamoinen : It is 68 per cent. I can take on notice, again, trying to find what that is by jurisdiction breakdown as well.

Senator DODSON: My understanding is that there has been a decrease in the number of placements Indigenous families. Is there a trend showing the placements going downwards or increasing?

Ms Saastamoinen : Over the long term, it has been reasonably stable. I would have to look to see what is happening in the last couple of years. There are some fluctuations at times. It's best to give you an accurate answer by going back and having a look at the data.

Senator DODSON: I appreciate that. The number seems to be incrementally increasing. I'm not sure whether the placements to the families are increasing.

Ms Saastamoinen : We can give you some trend data as well, if you would like.

Senator DODSON: In relation to the increases, can you shed some light on what is happening to reduce this appalling situation? This is an appalling situation. You have 16,000 Aboriginal young people in out-of-home care. All the positive things we've heard from the minister are good, but what is happening to reduce this number?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As I said, we fund a range of early intervention and prevention services. We fund parenting services. We fund community based family services. We fund support to grandparent groups. We fund a whole lot of activity. As you know, the solutions for this lie at the community level. We try to support communities to develop their own solutions around children. We also are working closely with the Department of Social Services on the national framework to protect Australia's children. Indigenous children are a key focus area of that framework.

Senator DODSON: It sounds like very little of that is being effective. I must say that, when I sit back and see these figures escalating, I'm not impressed that we are being effective with the public sector dough that's supposed to be reducing it.

Ms Hefren-Webb : I share the frustration, Senator, around this.

Senator DODSON: What is happening to improve this situation that has remained frustrating?

Senator Scullion: I think a bit more data that I haven't seen would be useful. I'm not asking a question on your behalf, but I think it would be useful to know the nature of each of the removals. The low-hanging fruit from my perspective—I have shared your concerns—are those children who are removed as a consequence of domestic violence, rather than the perpetrator being removed. That is low-hanging fruit. Why are children being removed and why would you as an abused woman report it if there was the threat of losing your children? These are appalling circumstances, Senator; I agree entirely. I'm not just saying that this is about the states and territories. I will be meeting in the coming weeks with representatives of the Aboriginal legal aid service, NAAJA, to try to say, 'Well, what can we do where we can do this to change some of the policies?' When police officers turn up at a place, they're obliged to follow whatever the child services process is. They turn up. When they turn up, invariably they'll say, 'There is domestic violence. We're taking them away,' rather than take a much more sophisticated approach. The default position should be that the woman and children stay in the home. Anyway, I share your frustration on this. If you have some particular views and ideas about how the Commonwealth can influence the jurisdictions who have ownership over the policy and the process, I will be delighted to hear about it.

Senator DODSON: I would be delighted to see how effective you are in the discussions. I take your point and I appreciate what you say, Minister. In the short term, we're not in power; you are. I'd like to see some action take place.

Ms Saastamoinen : We can also get you—again, possibly it's only available at the national level—some data on some of the reasons why Indigenous children compared with non-Indigenous children are being taken out of the care of their families. I don't have the detail. At a general level, more Indigenous children than non-Indigenous children are taken away for reasons of neglect. More non-Indigenous children than Indigenous children are taken away for abuse. As I said, we can give you some more precise data on that.

Senator DODSON: And the causation principles, as it were.

Ms Saastamoinen : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Are you moving on from there?

Senator DODSON: Not just yet. I want to go back to the adoption question. I note what the minister has said. I get the impression that there is some movement to try to place these children in out-of-home care, in a more facilitated process ,out of the Indigenous sector or out of their families and extended families into non-Indigenous type families. Is that what is happening, Minister?

Senator Scullion: Well, before I go to the officers, let me say that I don't have that knowledge. No-one has said that to me. There have been no submissions made that we need to be able to take them away from Indigenous people and put them elsewhere. Notwithstanding that, we do have incidents from time to time where the media might portray it in one way or another. You would know as a member of parliament that the Northern Territory government has been subject to quite a lot of questions such as, 'What have you done about this incident?' That can often drive changes in policy. I am certainly not in the adoption or placement space. This government doesn't have any intention to, as I said, change the child placement principles. Some of the officers may have been aware of changes to that policy.

Ms Saastamoinen : I'm not aware of any changes to that policy.

Senator DODSON: Or proposals to change it?

Ms Saastamoinen : No, I'm not aware of any proposals. What we have been doing with the Department of Social Services, which has the Commonwealth oversight more broadly, I guess, for the Commonwealth's interest in child protection, is trying to work through, for example, what we know of what is happening in each state and territory. There are some positive changes. For example, in Victoria, the state government as of, I think, 1 September last year handed over administration for Aboriginal families and children that find themselves in the out-of-home care or child protection system to VACCA, to community control. There are, I understand, some reforms happening as well in Queensland, where they are looking at how they can work better and negotiate more control to Indigenous organisations and to Aboriginal community control. But it does vary by state and territory. Again, if there's an interest, we can certainly work with our colleagues in the Department of Social Services to give you a bit of a map of what we understand is happening in each state and territory.

Senator DODSON: That would be useful. Can you give me a bit of a map, as you put it, on how the mistreatment and abuse of these children is being managed or dealt with or responded to by these systems?

Ms Saastamoinen : Yes.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Senator, I want to clarify. Are you talking about mistreatment once they are in out-of-home care?

Senator DODSON: A lot of mistreatment—as you would be aware from the royal commission into sexual abuse—and other things happened in these institutions and foster homes. That's what I'm talking about.

Ms Hefren-Webb : I was just trying to clarify whether you meant mistreatment in general or in out-of-home care.

Senator DODSON: No. My questions are very specific. Once they are in the custody or care of the Commonwealth or the state or some other institutional arrangement, what is happening to them when they get abused and mistreated?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As you would know, the Commonwealth does not have any custodianship. In the states and territories—

Senator DODSON: But do you know what is happening?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Each state and territory would have its own arrangements.

Senator DODSON: We've just had an offer to have that map. Thank you.

Ms Hefren-Webb : For the reporting of mistreatment in care and for the investigation of any allegations of mistreatment in care, generally the state and territory children's commissioner has some sort of responsibility.

Senator McCARTHY: What about the national commissioner?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We don't have any children in out-of-home care under Commonwealth control, so the National Children's Commissioner doesn't have a role in that.

Senator DODSON: So you don't know if any children are being mistreated or abused?

Ms Hefren-Webb : How could I possibly know if any child is being abused?

Senator DODSON: This is the Commonwealth government we're talking about.

Senator Scullion: I can help.

Senator DODSON: The minister has expressed a concern in this area.

Senator Scullion: Senator, I can help with that. I will not correct Ms Hefren-Webb. I am aware that, as a consequence of the royal commission you're referring to, we asked all of the agencies. Australian Hostels Limited, or AHL, had had some reports. They sent those reports and made a submission to that process and have amended a whole range of their procedures since then. So these are historic processes. Yes, in some of our institutions, that is alleged to have taken place. Off the top of my head, I think one went to prosecution and was found not guilty. The remainder didn't go to prosecution. In any event, that's to the extent I know. I will take that on notice to ensure that there are not some other institutions that the Commonwealth is responsible for.

Senator DODSON: The Commonwealth, in its role as the Commonwealth, has some oversight of these other jurisdictions, so we can fix these problems and hopefully improve the quality of life for these little people in out-of-home care. Minister, in your generosity, you are pursuing some of this. Have any deaths occurred in these jurisdictions that you know of while kids are in care?

Senator Scullion: These are jurisdictions in and of themselves. I think I get the thrust of your questions. I'm happy to write to the first ministers on behalf of the committee and ask for details of both those matters as well as, ensuring that my memory serves me correctly, if there's anything beyond those matters on AHL.

Senator DODSON: Thank you, Minister.

Senator SIEWERT: I have some questions. I want to follow up on the adoptions issue. In particular, this is a live issue in New South Wales. The New South Wales government is going down the line of being much more focused on adoption. They are putting money into it more broadly. They were making comments about including Aboriginal children in that process. It was my understanding that, while they have been moving in this direction towards permanency, as they call it, in adoption, Aboriginal children were basically excluded from that process. I understand that they have at least hinted at including Aboriginal people in that process. I am deeply concerned when I read that. Have you had any discussions with New South Wales in light of comments that you've made earlier?

Mr Tongue : No.

Senator SIEWERT: You haven't at all?

Mr Tongue : No.

Senator SIEWERT: I will ask the minister. I'm not supposed to ask you for opinions. Minister, does this concern you?

Senator Scullion: Well, it seems that there has been a 60 per cent reduction in adoptions in Australia over the last 25 years. I'm not sure how that's going to happen.

Senator SIEWERT: Don't get me started on adoptions.

Senator Scullion: No. Sorry, I'm just saying this is the first I've heard of it. Let's see, before I make any commentary, what that's about. Again, I'm happy to write to the New South Wales government. I don't have the answer to the question, but I can write to them and say, 'Can you please clarify what impact this discussion you're having around changes to the approach for adoptions will have on our First Australians?' I'm happy to do that for you, Senator.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you, particularly in light of the fact that they appear to be moving this way when they themselves have their own review going on that is being undertaken by Professor Davis.

Ms Saastamoinen : That was the media reporting this morning, I think.

Senator SIEWERT: I have been aware they've been moving in this direction for a while. Thank you. That would be appreciated. You made comments earlier about your involvement in developing the process for the protection of the child. I presume that includes engagement with the development of the fourth framework. Is that correct?

Ms Saastamoinen : The department, through my branch, has been consulted by the Department of Social Services on the approach to developing the fourth action plan, including how they might best work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stakeholders and state and territory governments around the priority focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. DSS has the Commonwealth lead role for developing that. Certainly they've been positively engaged with the department. We have, as I said, provided them with advice about some opportunities to engage, particularly with Indigenous representatives. I understand that they have been working closely as well with SNAICC. SNAICC chairs one of the working groups. SNAICC would have been providing them with some good advice as well.

Senator SIEWERT: I have some more questions, but I will put them on notice. I want to go to the school attendance figures. Could you take on notice the most up-to-date school attendance figures? Obviously the point-in-time figures aren't going to help. Can I have the last two years in terms of school attendance figures under the new program?

Ms Hefren-Webb : So under the RSAS program?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Ms Hefren-Webb : We can provide that on notice.

Senator SIEWERT: Jurisdiction by jurisdiction. That would be appreciated. I'm not sure whether this is the right place to ask this question, so tell me if it's the next one. I'm going to mangle the pronunciation, so I apologise already. The report that is being done into the youth voices, the Guthoo

Ms Hefren-Webb : The Women's Voices report?

Senator SIEWERT: No, not that. I asked extensively Commissioner Oscar yesterday about it. It's the program, as I understand it, that was commissioned by PM&C on following up in Kalgoorlie the approach in Kalgoorlie. I think it was the Aboriginal youth—

Ms Saastamoinen : Is that the youth summit?

Senator SIEWERT: A study has been done which I understand was commissioned by PM&C. I think the summit was part of it.

Senator Scullion: Yes. There was a survey conducted as part of that.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Senator Scullion: The youth conducted it themselves.

Senator SIEWERT: The report has now gone to you, I understand—

Senator Scullion: Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: and had some worrying findings. What is the process from here? How do you intend responding to it?

Senator Scullion: Well, the report was part of this whole process. I'm actually surprised it's not public already. I'll find out the status of the report shortly. I'll try to get back to you.

Senator SIEWERT: It's on the website.

Senator Scullion: So it's made public.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Senator Scullion: So in terms of our response—

Senator SIEWERT: I knew you'd tell me it's coming.

Senator Scullion: I wasn't contemplating a formal response to it. There are some broad recommendations that will follow in terms of infrastructure and some of our youth investment, some of which we've already done, which is not the infrastructure stuff. As is usually the case, whilst that report makes particular recommendations about sites to do things, there are other groups in the community who say, 'Well, we're not happy with that.' That's okay. We're using the report as a basis for further discussion with the community. We're adopting some of those recommendations that are pretty self-evident. I was actually at the symposium and working with kids. There was a theme that came through about some sorts of investments we had to make. I'm more than happy to take some of our responses on notice. Unless someone can remind me otherwise, it wasn't my intention to have some sort of a formalised response to the report. It wasn't the nature of that report.

Senator SIEWERT: Can you tell me how much—take it on notice if you haven't got it—it cost? Why did you commission it if you're not going to take much notice of the recommendations? Findings 3 to 6 state:

3. Aboriginal young people in Kalgoorlie-Boulder experience high levels of psychological distress.

…   …   …   

4. Young people are concerned about anti-social behaviour in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

…      …   …

5. Some Aboriginal young people are reluctant to use services in the region when they need them.

…   …   …

6. Aboriginal young people perceive a lack of interesting activities in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

These are the voices of the young people—

Senator Scullion: That's right.

Senator SIEWERT: who are, as it is said there, in obviously quite a bit of distress and raise other issues in terms of the way that they are treated in Kalgoorlie. So why commission a report if you're not going to take any action out of it?

Senator Scullion: I don't accept the premise of your question that we're not doing anything about it. That particular area you just quoted is all about cultural competency and cultural confidence for children and young adults in Kalgoorlie to seek advice and support, including emotional support, or whatever it is. One of the fundamentals was, 'I still won't want to go there.' For those people, many around this committee would know that they don't have some cultural comfort in that. We've taken that on board. More generally, this is not only about our investments in Kalgoorlie but also about Western Australians. The Western Australian government was there with us. We're making an attempt, and we have since that day, which was before the report came out, to ensure that that cultural comfort is there. It's about more employment of local Aboriginal people on the very front line, because they know these people. In almost every element there, we can demonstrate that we're doing things. I just haven't said, 'Let's go and have some sort of a public response.'

Senator SIEWERT: Can you take on notice, then, currently what services and supports the Commonwealth is funding into Kalgoorlie-Boulder, please?

Senator Scullion: Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you. I will put the rest of my questions on notice.

Senator KENEALLY: I want to follow up quickly on the questions posed by Senator Siewert. Minister, the report that Senator Siewert was just referring to followed the death of a young man, did it not, in that community?

Senator Scullion: Well, a death certainly occurred before it. I'm not sure it followed on. I'm not being picky. There were a whole range of issues around the community before then.

Senator KENEALLY: Before Elijah Doughty's death?

Senator Scullion: That's right, yes. That was a part of where we needed to go. We needed to work out why so many children were disconnected in Kalgoorlie and particularly why we had so much support and they weren't accessing that.

Senator KENEALLY: Was that one of the reasons that prompted you to hold a youth summit in Kalgoorlie?

Senator Scullion: There was a meeting in Kalgoorlie with the three levels of government—the Western Australian government, the Commonwealth government and the shire of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. It was from that that we decided that we needed to find out what the youth themselves thought. That was the reason we held both a survey and a youth summit—to have them tell us the sorts of things they thought we should change.

Senator KENEALLY: When was that summit?

Senator Scullion: Somebody would have to—

Senator KENEALLY: Was it in October 2017? That's my understanding.

Senator Scullion: Somebody will be able to tell me that in a moment. I think we allocated $300,000 to that process.

Senator KENEALLY: Were you able to attend that, Minister?

Senator Scullion: I attended both of them. I attended the first tri-government process and I attended the process and the symposium.

Senator KENEALLY: You attended the summit?

Senator Scullion: I did indeed.

Senator KENEALLY: So you were able to meet with young people directly, were you, as part of that summit?

Senator Scullion: I spent several days in Kalgoorlie meeting primarily young people in their houses and parks and as a part of the summit.

Senator KENEALLY: And as part of the summit. How long did the summit go?

Senator Scullion: The summit went for two days, I think, or something like that.

Senator KENEALLY: Were you there for both days?

Senator Scullion: No, I wasn't there for both days. I was there for as long as I could be there. I can't recall exactly when I left. There was a performance on that night that I was hoping to be at. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to because of plane connections. I spent most of the time there, particularly in the design. I spent the full day with the children there. There was a presentation that evening and I wasn't able to attend.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you.

CHAIR: We were due to go to the health section a few minutes ago. We still have a few programs to get through in outcome 2, though. Are there any further questions in 2.2?

Senator DODSON: I have a couple on the NT royal commission.

CHAIR: You can ask them now.

Senator DODSON: Thank you. Minister, this question comes to you not only as the minister but as a senator for the Northern Territory as well, so keep that in mind in your responses, if you wouldn't mind. What additional funds have been allocated to implement the recommendations from the Northern Territory royal commission?

Senator Scullion: One of the—

CHAIR: I should just note that technically you are here to answer questions in your capacity as a minister, not as a senator from the Northern Territory.

Senator Scullion: Indeed.

Senator DODSON: You need to be mindful of the fact that he is a senator of the Northern Territory as well.

CHAIR: Indeed. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten.

Senator DODSON: I'm sure he hasn't. I'm just reminding him.

Senator Scullion: Thank you. First of all, I think one of the most significant recommendations and one of the first utterances of the explanation from one of the commissioners was that, most importantly, the answer to these challenges was not about money. That was one of the recommendations. For those recommendations that the Commonwealth have responsibility for, we will be funding the entire amount. For those—I think around 18 or so—which are joint responsibilities, we'll be negotiating with the Northern Territory government. I understand that the Northern Territory government will be taking responsibility for their own. I'm not actually the lead minister on this. People come to me and ask me because that's natural. The Minister for Social Services is actually the lead on it. I'm happy to answer any questions—

Senator DODSON: Despite the overrepresentation of First Nations—

Senator Scullion: Absolutely.

Senator DODSON: in these detention centres, you're not the minister responsible?

Senator Scullion: The Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Dan Tehan, is lead minister. I'm just saying I am always in the space. I'm more than happy to ask questions. Of course, I have a great interest in this space.

Senator DODSON: Maybe we need to drag him in here some time to relieve the pressure on you, Minister. We realise you can't carry the whole of your government on your shoulders!

Senator Scullion: I try.

Senator DODSON: We do see things as interconnected, and you're the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. There's a high percentage of First Nation kids in this detention centre. The other matter—realising that another minister may be carrying this—is the question of the age of criminal responsibility that was recommended by the royal commission. They wanted to see that age lifted to 12. They've sought also to prohibit the detention of children under 14 except for very exceptional circumstances, of course. I appreciate the complexity of some of this. Have there been any discussions taking place in relation to this?

Senator Scullion: To my knowledge, on this specific issue, no. This is a good example of why this is not a report about the Northern Territory. This should apply to every jurisdiction. The recommendations should apply to every jurisdiction. Every jurisdiction should be thinking about this question of the age of criminality. It is a matter for those jurisdictions. Whether I have a personal view about that or not is immaterial. Those jurisdictions need to make that decision. Because it has to be a consistent process, I would have hoped that best practice is best practice. So whilst this is a matter for the Territory government—it is one of their recommendations specifically—each jurisdiction should see it as their responsibility to consider these matters as well.

Senator DODSON: I appreciate the insightfulness with which you responded. Has any plan been developed within the government, not necessarily within your portfolio, to pick up that notion? I believe that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General at the time, along with yourself, indicated that these recommendations will have relevance to other states and territories for child protection and juvenile justice. Are you aware of any efforts being made by the government to actually begin those discussions with the other jurisdictions in order to ensure that the findings of the royal commission, where relevant to other jurisdictions, can at least be worked upon by those jurisdictions?

Senator Scullion: I will take that on notice for the other departments to ensure that I can be fulsome in my response about what is happening around that particular matter. If you don't mind, I will also ask about whether or not this is a matter that has been put up to COAG, because that's pretty much the only process where the Commonwealth can have some influence. My assumption is that it will be a matter that will be eventually dealt with by COAG, but I'll have to confirm it.

Ms Hefren-Webb : I might be able to answer that.

Senator DODSON: It would be extraordinary if you can add to the minister's answer, but that would be grand.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Only because there's activity happening at officials level that the minister wouldn't have visibility of.

Senator Scullion: No.

Ms Hefren-Webb : The Department of Social Services is running an interdepartmental committee that includes representation from us, the Department of Education, Health and Attorney-General's. I think Finance and Treasury are on it as well. It is to discuss how we take forward the full range of recommendations that came out of the NT royal commission, including how they might be taken forward through intergovernmental channels—not only COAG but also other ministerial forums and councils. They are also working with the Northern Territory government on a tripartite governance process, as recommended by the royal commission, involving the Territory government, the Commonwealth government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the NT. So there's a range of work that is progressing across government within the Commonwealth and with the Northern Territory.

Senator DODSON: And that's all in relation to First Nations people, including children?

Ms Hefren-Webb : All the work is in response to the Northern Territory royal commission, as you outlined. Obviously—

Senator DODSON: I know, but it wasn't specific to First Nations. I want to know if there is anything specific happening in response to the First Nations children and young people.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes. The recommendations of the royal commission are all being looked at. Every recommendation is being examined by those processes, including the recommendation that involves Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in decision-making—involvement in local decision-making and involvement in tripartite governance forums et cetera.

Senator DODSON: I understand from what you've said that, ultimately, you will come to the minister with some propositions that will go into that mix,

Ms Hefren-Webb : Correct.

Senator DODSON: so that the minister, with his vast wisdom and knowledge, will be able to put his stamp upon it for the betterment of the First Nations people. Is that what you're saying to me?

Ms Hefren-Webb : That is what I'm saying to you.

Senator DODSON: Great. I'm very pleased to hear it. I think that may be all I have on that unless one of my colleagues would like to—

Senator SIEWERT: That's separate to the task force doing the royal commission into the institutional response?

Senator Scullion: Yes.

Mr Tongue : Completely separate.

Senator SIEWERT: Is there an allocation of funding for that? The task force had an allocation in the budget.

Ms Hefren-Webb : For the task force within DSS, we've contributed staffing resources. There wasn't a separate allocation in the budget, but we've contributed resources.

Senator SIEWERT: To the task force?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Correct.

Senator SIEWERT: I'm talking about for the NT royal commission.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Can you take on notice what the commitment of resources is that you've made? As far as I am aware, it's not in the budget papers.

Senator Scullion: Just to save time, is it usual that an interdepartmental working group would be allocated funds? I'm not sure.

Senator SIEWERT: The task force was.

Senator Scullion: I know, but it's a different thing.

Senator SIEWERT: I know it's a different thing. That's why I'm asking about this one.

Ms Hefren-Webb : We've committed staffing resources. But I can provide that on notice.

Senator SIEWERT: Provide that on notice. Thank you.

CHAIR: Any further questions under 2.2, Children's schooling? If not, we'll move on to 2.3, Safety and wellbeing. Any questions under 2.3?

Senator SIEWERT: I want to add that that is not the end of the questions; we've got some on notice. But we're going to run out of time for Health.

CHAIR: That's certainly implied. You can put as many as you like on notice.

Senator DODSON: Chair, are you wanting to move to Health, or are you still in this bracket?

CHAIR: I'm trying to tick these off to make sure that we've covered off any questions that senators want to ask now. I'm not eliminating the possibility that you might want to put questions on notice. Safety and wellbeing, culture and capability, remote Australia strategy, research and evaluation or program support—any questions under those?

Senator KENEALLY: We would like to go to 2.7, Program support.

[14:17]

CHAIR: Yes—2.7.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you. I would like to ask some questions about Closing the Gap. Can you point me, please, to any new funding commitments announced in the 2018 budget papers that would address the Closing the Gap strategy?

Senator Scullion: Whilst the officers come to the table, let me say that the IAS is in the budget. It's $5 billion over the forward estimates. That quite clearly is about Closing the Gap. That's specifically directed at three per cent of the population. I think there's $3.6 billion in Health that is specifically in the budget about assisting our First Australians with their health needs. Again, that's specifically targeted at closing the gap. Other officers have now come to the table. They may be able to expand on that.

Mr Sloan : I missed the question. Could I have it repeated, please?

Senator KENEALLY: I want to know about any funding commitments announced in the 2018 budget that would address the Closing the Gap strategy. If it might help to narrow the scope of the question, could we please look at Budget Paper No. 3 on federal financial relations in order to be clear on the national partnership agreements that relate to Closing the Gap?

Mr Sloan : As the minister was saying a bit earlier, we're still in the middle of this process working through COAG, so it's a bit early to talk about any possible funding. Like I said, we're still working through with our state colleagues what a refreshed Closing the Gap agenda would look like.

Senator KENEALLY: At page 15, under Indigenous health, there is $15.9 million for the states. I'm sure that would go towards the Closing the Gap strategy. That's what I'm talking about—the things in the budget currently, not about the refresh. Can you give us a breakdown of that?

Mr Tongue : Governments in Australia spend about $34 billion a year on and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Closing the Gap agenda effectively seeks to cover the vast bulk of that financial support. For example, in the negotiation with the states and territories about the Gonski 2.0 deal, there is a significant allocation to states and territories for Indigenous education.

Senator KENEALLY: What I might do, to save time today—I do have some specific questions about these various partnerships—is put them on notice.

Mr Tongue : We're happy to do that. It's quite complicated.

Senator KENEALLY: That is.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Keneally.

Senator KENEALLY: It's my pleasure to help. I do have a couple of other questions, though. Was there any independent review of the Closing the Gap framework prior to commencing the refresh process?

Senator Scullion: No, I don't think so. There have only been two Closing the Gap processes. The original Closing the Gap process actually didn't even have a consultation day. The government just came up with it and went on with it. We've learned since then, of course, that perhaps we can be a bit more sophisticated. A decade on, we have had a significant consultation process. That's an ongoing consultation process. We've also acknowledged that each jurisdiction has its own place to play in this. COAG and the jurisdictions are going to have a different role to play specifically around targets that are within their purview.

Senator KENEALLY: I understand your answer. The answer to the question, though, is that, no, there wasn't. It's not a 'gotcha' question, Minister. It's just a straightforward question about trying to understand.

Senator Scullion: No, fine.

Senator KENEALLY: I note that the discussion paper published online does not include any reference to the national Indigenous reform agenda, which, as I understand it, is the framework within which Closing the Gap targets were embedded. Does the refresh process include an analysis of the national Indigenous reform agenda?

Ms Donegan : The Closing the Gap Refresh process does take into account the National Indigenous Reform Agreement. It is the framework, as you say, under which Closing the Gap sits. We're currently working with states and territories to work through whether that has been a good framework, what improvements could be made to that framework and what other framework options might be available to us.

Senator KENEALLY: So, if it is replaced, do you anticipate that state and territory jurisdictions will continue to be included and that there will continue to be mechanisms for coordination and implementation?

Ms Donegan : Yes.

Mr Tongue : Yes.

Senator KENEALLY: In terms of the refresh consultation process, were briefing materials provided to participants in advance of those consultations?

Mr Sloan : There have been a range of different sorts of consultations. On that, depending on what the forum was, there would be forums where information was provided to participants before the day. There would have been other forums where information was provided on the day. Mr Jeffries, who is leading our consultation process, may have more detailed information. But it's been a mixture, depending on the type of forum that we're going to.

Senator KENEALLY: Surely if you're going to do a consultation it would be good practice to provide information in advance of the day. Which consultations didn't have any information provided ahead of time?

Mr Jeffries : With regard to the roundtables, there was a page flyer that was basically focusing on the last decade, the proposed framework and those kind of things. A special gathering statement was provided to the last 15 roundtables prior to conducting them. In the first three roundtables, we had the public discussion paper plus the flyers all provided to invitees before we got to the actual roundtables.

Senator KENEALLY: There was a discussion paper published online, correct?

Mr Jeffries : Correct.

Senator KENEALLY: For other consultations, was there an agenda provided in advance of the consultations?

Mr Jeffries : Yes.

Senator KENEALLY: I will leave that there for the moment. I have some other detailed questions I might put on notice with regard to the consultation process. Will the submissions to the refresh process be published publicly?

Mr Sloan : We are in the process of people submitting their submissions. There is a question that requires them to tick a box about whether they are happy to have this submission publicly released. Where they've ticked yes, it will be. Where they've ticked no, it won't be.

Senator KENEALLY: When will that happen?

Ms Donegan : All submissions that were submitted before the due date on 30 April are available online. There were submissions that came in late. They weren't submitted through the website. They were submitted through email. Because they were submitted through email, they didn't get to tick the box, 'Are you able to release this publicly or not?' We're in the process of going back. Most of those submissions have now been sent back to the organisations to tick that box. As that information comes back, we're putting them up on the website.

Senator KENEALLY: So you are putting them up? You will be putting them up?

Ms Donegan : Most of them are available now.

Senator KENEALLY: Great. So there may be a few more to go up, but the bulk of them are available now?

Ms Donegan : There are around 180. Some of them are private, but the bulk of them are up.

Senator KENEALLY: So has a timeline been publicly disseminated for the consultation process? Am I able to go somewhere or is someone who is interested in this able to go somewhere and see the timeline for how this is all going to play out that leads us to the end result?

Mr Sloan : Certainly as we've said publicly, and it's in the COAG decision, the end date is 31 October. That is public. That date is on the website, obviously. We have held discussions with a range of people where we have— for example, at a special gathering—provided a high-level time line of the processes we're going through. But there's not one publicly available, no.

Senator KENEALLY: Can you give us maybe some of the key steps in the time line as you understand it between now and that October date?

Mr Sloan : Certainly. As I think others have said—Professor Anderson talked about it—we have concluded the initial consultation phase, where we have had the public discussion paper, as you've noted. We have had a series of roundtables and other consultations, as Mr Jeffries has talked about. We've now moved into what we're calling a design phase, where we're working with a range of people and including a couple of technical workshops, where we start taking the discussion around target areas and narrowing them to possible targets. Beyond that, we will be looking at a phase later in the year—we're talking July—of testing those two earlier phases. A final phase will lead to the COAG decision point by 31 October, where we will get to the negotiating phase between the Commonwealth and the states.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you. That's helpful. Minister, could you explain how any new targets, when they are agreed to and finalised, will be funded, given there's no forward funding identified in the budget papers? For example, will there need to be a new budgetary process for the purpose, or will the new funding need to wait for the May 2019 budget?

Senator Scullion: As I explained a little earlier, because there are no finalised arrangements, it's unlikely to appear in the budget. But it would depend entirely on the jurisdiction and what the target is. Generally speaking, the jurisdiction that has a responsibility over a particular matter would have to change the policy and the processes of that matter. It would be by agreement. I'm not sure I can reflect on it any more. I have already indicated that I have said to the first ministers, 'Tell me how you want us to work together.' That's about the child placement process—the out-of-home care process. We would have a similar sort of approach. It depends entirely on the matter, the nature of the target and the jurisdiction.

Senator KENEALLY: Minister, if you were able to get to some sort of agreement on the refresh and an understanding of the jurisdictional issues et cetera in advance of the May 2019 budget, would it be your aspiration to try to get funding organised before May 2019?

Senator Scullion: We would certainly want to have everything before 2019. So every element of that should be sorted out. We need to have new targets. We need to have new plans to get to the target. A target is hopeless unless you actually have a plan, and a plan is hopeless unless it's resourced. We all acknowledge that. Yes, I would be hopeful that we would have all of those matters sorted out by then.

Senator KENEALLY: We'll wait to see on that. I have one more question on this. I note that, in answer to questions on notice from October, the department advised that the targets that are not expiring in 2018 will continue in the Closing the Gap Refresh. How are those targets that are not expiring being funded?

Senator Scullion: That would depend on each target.

Senator KENEALLY: I might put that on notice.

Senator Scullion: Perhaps Mr Sloan can help you with that.

Mr Sloan : The minister is correct. There would be a range of mechanisms that would be funding each of those targets, including the life expectancy and child mortality. There would be things in the health department portfolio that would be targeting those sorts of things. There is year 12 equivalent attainment. There would be things within the education portfolio designed to make sure schoolchildren reach year 12. So it just depends on the target and the investments of governments. I think that's important because, as the minister has said on many occasions, we need to recognise that governments, both at the Commonwealth—

Senator Scullion: I might be able, for completeness and your benefit—I know you're tight on time—to take on notice each of the targets that are continuing.

Senator KENEALLY: That would be helpful.

Senator Scullion: And what the Commonwealth investment makes on each target.

Senator KENEALLY: That would be helpful. Thank you, Minister.

Senator DODSON: I want to ask a broader question which goes to the funding of the exercise in the refresh process. I understand that allocation is linked to an analysis of the effectiveness of the IAS programs. In the first instance, can you tell me the amount that was allocated to this exercise?

Mr Tongue : We've established a task force within the Indigenous Affairs group in PM&C. I have to take on notice for you whether funding has finally landed. There are 15 or 20 people attached to that task force. We also have additional resources in our evaluation and research areas. We are also drawing on resources in each of our line policy areas and our regional networks. To give you an accurate answer, I will have to take that on notice and do the maths.

Ms Donegan : I can provide the answer. There's a total of 19.9 staff ASL working on the Closing the Gap Refresh. To date, we have spent around $240,000 on consultations, of which 18 national roundtables were $152,000; the special gathering was around $55½ thousand; and the remaining presentations, updates and attending meetings was around $33,000. In addition, we have signed a contract with KPMG Arrilla to run the technical workshops at around $440,000. To date, that's $680,000 on the Closing the Gap Refresh.

Senator DODSON: The second part of my question is about the analysis of the programs in the IAS. What allocations have been made for that? Are they going to a consultancy arrangement?

Mr Tongue : It is a mixture. Some of it is our existing evaluation program.

Senator DODSON: Yes.

Mr Tongue : Some of it is where people raise it in the consultations and will be additional consultancy work. Where anything relates to the major programs of health, education and employment, we rely on those departments and the evaluations and analysis that those departments do. So the answer is that it's a mixture.

Senator DODSON: Are we talking in the order of millions here? Somewhere in the back of my memory there is a figure of $30 million.

Mr Tongue : I don't think we're talking a number of that size.

Senator DODSON: That's good if we're not. I would be very pleased. On the other hand, have the evaluations of the programs under the IAS been completed?

Mr Sloan : There was a commitment by the government for $40 million over four years.

Senator DODSON: Thank you, yes.

Mr Sloan : An evaluation investment into the IAS.

Senator Scullion: But that wasn't about an evaluation of the IAS necessarily. It was about an evaluation program. Somebody said, 'We want an evaluation of a particular program.' So $10 million was available for more general analysis of whatever program we wanted to look at.

Senator DODSON: I'm totally confused now.

Mr Sloan : As I said, it's a $40 million over four year commitment. It started this financial year. We have established an evaluation framework that is public. We consulted on that. It went live publicly, I think, in February some time. That sets out the principles by which the department will evaluate the programs. We've already started evaluating. I think we've got half a dozen that have been publicly done. I'm looking at Mr Johnson, who is leading that work. I might hand over to him for more of the details.

Mr Johnson : That's right. Beginning this year, we have a new program, program 2.6, which includes research and evaluation. That includes $40 million worth of funding to support evaluation activity over the next four years. On 28 February, we released an evaluation framework which sets out a range of principles and guides around how we will undertake evaluation of IAS activity within the department. On the same day, we also released a work plan for the coming 12 months. The work plan itself contains quite a number of projects. We have 50 projects currently on the work plan. We have had 11 of those projects completed this year.

Senator DODSON: So you have 50 and you have 11 completed?

Mr Johnson : Completed this year, yes. That's right.

Senator DODSON: Is the analysis available?

Mr Johnson : At the moment, I believe that five have been published.

Senator DODSON: And that will go on the website?

Mr Johnson : They are on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website, yes.

Senator DODSON: So 11 out of 50. When are we going to get the rest?

Mr Johnson : When they are completed.

Senator DODSON: I understand that. And, when you run out of money, I understand that as well. When are we going to get there?

Mr Johnson : It's a rolling program. We will continue to do it over that four-year period.

Senator DODSON: How many do you expect to get done in the next financial year?

Mr Johnson : Many of these evaluations cross over financial years. Some of them are quite big. Some of them will take a number of years to undertake. We will continue to update the plan, so we'll have a new evaluation plan for the—

Senator DODSON: So you have no notional target as to how many you want to achieve within a fiscal year?

Mr Johnson : In this fiscal year, we've already completed 11. We'll look to complete a—

Senator DODSON: But, going forward, do you have a notion of the number you want to try to complete? You may not get them done, but have you got any notion of how many you want to achieve?

Mr Johnson : The ideal would be to try to get the evaluations that we have on the work plan completed within reasonable time frames. These evaluations can run into all different types of complexities.

Senator DODSON: I understand that. I'm sorry, but I understand that. I won't pursue it any further. It would be useful to know within the four-year period whether they are going to cover the other 39 or so programs or you're not or you're going to cover a portion of them.

Mr Johnson : No, that is our intention, Senator.

Prof. Anderson : Some of them are quite big programs of evaluation. Some of them are quite small. We can just take it on notice and actually give you an estimation at this stage how we're going to track.

CHAIR: I know Senator Stoker has some questions on constitutional recognition. I have one question in this area. Then we can move to health.

Senator SIEWERT: I have a couple on Closing the Gap. We can put the rest on notice. Professor Anderson, you made a comment about the targets for the Commonwealth and what the state and territories do. Do I take it, then, there are now going to be targets for the Commonwealth and targets for the states and territories?

Prof. Anderson : Yes. COAG has agreed to it. It reflects our trying to work together in a more cohesive way. It also reflects trying to get better traction on areas of responsibility that relate to what each government has done. The next framework will have Commonwealth targets and jurisdictional targets.

Senator SIEWERT: Will they be Commonwealth ones that are also overarching? As we've just been discussing, whether the Commonwealth actually delivers out-of-home care or not, you have buy-in and responsibilities, a lot of us believe, in terms of out-of-home care. If you do adopt a child protection target, as has been articulated and people want to see, would there then be Commonwealth responsibilities and state and territory one under that, for example?

Prof. Anderson : There will be a range of those. So there will be some target areas where the Commonwealth will identify very clearly what its responsibility is and the jurisdictions identify what their bit of that—

Senator SIEWERT: Of that target, yes.

Prof. Anderson : And there will be others that jurisdictions will have that relate particularly to the priorities of that jurisdiction. There may be some which relate particularly to the Commonwealth's areas of responsibility. Our intention is at this stage to come up with the best mix of where we can really effectively drive implementation around all the priority areas that have been identified.

CHAIR: I have one question to tie off this Closing the Gap discussion, I guess in summary and particularly on the issue of consultation. How does the current process of consultation compare to the process of consultation that took place in 2008, when the Closing the Gap targets were established?

Mr Tongue : We have spoken to nearly 1,000 people so far and we haven't finished the consultation. The original targets were largely set here in Canberra amongst public servants.

CHAIR: Without any consultation?

Mr Tongue : Without the consultation. So this is a vastly—

Senator DODSON: That would have been an unusual thing—

CHAIR: Not under the Rudd government, no.

Senator DODSON: to devise programs and set priorities.

Senator SIEWERT: There was a community campaign around this too. We must not forget that.

Mr Tongue : There was a community campaign.

Senator SIEWERT: There was a huge community campaign.

Mr Tongue : But the actual target setting and then the manifestation of the—

Senator DODSON: It's still happening.

Mr Tongue : They were all added in the last decade.

Senator SIEWERT: And there's still a community campaign.

CHAIR: It's good to see that we're learning from the mistakes of the past.

Senator STOKER: I would like to ask some questions arising from the questions on notice from the last hearing on this matter. Question on notice 86 talks about the involvement of Referendum Council members in the consultations that developed their report. It says:

Only indigenous members of the Referendum Council were invited.

Can you confirm who attended the Uluru summit from the Referendum Council and who didn't attend?

Mr Fox : My understanding, and as has been outlined in the answer to question on notice 86, is that Mark Leibler, the co-chair of the Referendum Council, was the only non-Indigenous member who attended the final convention at Uluru. The other non-Indigenous members—Andrew Demetriou, Natasha Stott-Despoja, Murray Gleeson, Senator Keneally, Jane McAloon, Michael Rose and Amanda Vanstone—did not attend.

Senator KENEALLY: But were invited.

Mr Fox : But were invited, absolutely. All members were invited.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you.

Senator DODSON: Indigenous politicians were invited but couldn't attend.

Mr Fox : Yes.

Senator STOKER: Is it a fair assessment that the Referendum Council's recommendations largely reflect the outcomes of the Uluru summit?

Mr Fox : I think that's probably a fair assessment, yes.

Senator STOKER: On what basis did the members of the Referendum Council sign off on the recommendations if they weren't able to participate in those consultations?

Mr Fox : That's not a matter I can answer.

Senator KENEALLY: Oh my goodness, Senator Stoker!

Senator STOKER: Did any members of the Referendum Council make additional comments in the report to qualify their view on the Referendum Council's recommendations?

Mr Fox : I think Senator Keneally indicated that Amanda Vanstone did. My memory is that that is correct.

Senator KENEALLY: She didn't attend. How did she get to do that, Senator Stoker?

Senator STOKER: In relation to consultation with non-Indigenous Australians, it appears that the digital platform established by the Referendum Council was the only form of consultation that was undertaken. Is that right or wrong?

Mr Fox : No, that's not correct. Written submissions were invited.

Senator STOKER: I want to go back to one of the answers on this question on notice. Can you confirm to the committee whether there was or wasn't a public, face-to-face consultation process for non-Indigenous Australians as part of the Referendum Council process?

Mr Fox : I think the answer that was provided to question on notice 86 said that there were no face-to-face consultations with non-Indigenous Australians.

Senator STOKER: Did the Referendum Council meet or consult with any non-Indigenous people as part of their process?

Mr Fox : I think the answer is yes, through the digital platform and the written submission process that we were discussing earlier. I'm not aware that there were any face-to-face consultations with non-Indigenous Australians.

Senator STOKER: You might have to take this on notice; I'm not sure. In relation to the digital platform consultations, how many submissions were made in total on that platform?

Mr Fox : I would have to take that on notice. I note that the Referendum Council's report gives details of that as well.

Senator STOKER: When you take it on notice, could you give a breakdown of those that were made by Indigenous Australians and those made by non-Indigenous Australians, please?

Mr Fox : I might need to look at that. I don't know that that division would be immediately apparent on the face of the submissions.

Senator STOKER: Was the proposal to establish an indigenous voice to the parliament specifically consulted upon in the digital platform consultations?

Mr Fox : I'm not aware.

Senator STOKER: Is that something you can take on notice?

Mr Fox : Yes, I will take that on notice.

Senator STOKER: When you do so, perhaps you could also indicate whether there was a consensus of support from those submissions for a voice to parliament by non-Indigenous Australians.

Mr Fox : Yes, we'll look at that as well.

Senator STOKER: Thank you. What steps did the Referendum Council take to satisfy itself that a voice to parliament would win a majority of votes in a majority of states before it delivered it's final report?

Mr Fox : I'm not aware what the council did. That's a matter for the council.

CHAIR: The council was funded generously by taxpayers through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Surely you can inquire as to what steps were taken.

Mr Fox : I can do that, certainly. The senator asked me if I was aware.

CHAIR: I'm just making sure you take that on notice.

Senator KENEALLY: It might help if Senator Stoker went back and read the terms of reference for the Referendum Council to know what they were asked to do.

Senator STOKER: Thank you, Senator Keneally. I've done that.

CHAIR: Senator Keneally, no-one interrupted the questions that you asked.

Senator Scullion: I'm sure she will be asking the same questions. I read them, and your council failed miserably to answer all of the questions. That's my position and a lot of Australians' position. We're very disappointed in the outcome.

Senator McCARTHY: And your Prime Minister failed to allow the parliament to even look at the report and have an open debate in the parliament before he trashed it.

Senator Scullion: We did no such thing. What we said was that we didn't think that the Australian people would support such a notion, given the historical—

Senator McCARTHY: But you didn't allow the parliament—

Senator Scullion: nature of these debates.

Senator McCARTHY: You cut short the debate. You expected—

Senator Scullion: We did no such thing, Senator.

CHAIR: Order, order!

Senator Scullion: We did no such thing, Senator.

Senator McCARTHY: You did not even allow the parliament to follow through the process.

CHAIR: Senator McCarthy!

Senator Scullion: The Prime Minister was very clear that he runs a cabinet based government. That's the decision he made. Imagine setting back the relationship between Indigenous people and other Australians—

Senator McCARTHY: How about democracy and allowing the parliament to debate a report that you've spent 18 months across the country—

CHAIR: Order! Senator McCarthy.

Senator McCARTHY: deliberating.

Senator Scullion: Except they—

CHAIR: Sorry, Minister.

Senator Scullion: didn't talk to the majority of Australians about it.

CHAIR: Minister, please. Minister.

Senator Scullion: That was a bit of an error.

CHAIR: Order! There are appropriate forums for this to be debated. They are not in this committee. They can be debated elsewhere.

Senator McCARTHY: So you cut short the parliament.

CHAIR: Order!

Senator Scullion: No, we haven't cut short anything.

CHAIR: Order!

Senator Scullion: You can't make stuff up.

Senator McCARTHY: Well, you didn't allow the debate to occur in the parliament.

CHAIR: There's nothing stopping anyone raising any issues of debate in the parliament—but not in this forum, because this is a forum for asking questions and seeking answers. Senator Stoker, can I get an indication of how many more questions you have? I am mindful of the time and we haven't got to Health yet.

Senator STOKER: I have three.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator STOKER: I have a couple of questions about question on notice No. 87. Can you confirm if I've understood your answer correctly, which is that it appears the recommendations of the expert panel were rejected?

Mr Fox : That is the answer that was provided to question on notice No. 87, yes.

Senator STOKER: On what basis was the work of the expert panel rejected by the Referendum Council?

Mr Fox : I'm not aware. I'm not sure of the basis on which the Referendum Council reached that conclusion.

Senator STOKER: Can you take that on notice?

Mr Fox : Yes. I suspect it might have been canvassed in the report, but I don't know.

Senator STOKER: Thank you. I have nothing further, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Stoker. If there are no further questions under outcome 2, we'll move quickly to health issues and invite the Department of Health officials to join us.