There are no formal recommendations in the third report of the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services (CGRIS). However the report identifies issues for consideration by governments as implementation of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery (RSD NPA) progresses. These issues are summarised in the Ways Forward table at pages 104-105 of the report.
This Working Group on Indigenous Reform (WGIR) response to the third report focuses on these issues.
The issues identified in the Ways Forward table will be considered by the whole of governments’ Remote Service Delivery Boards of Management1 in each jurisdiction.
The Boards of Management will ensure any government actions adopted to address issues are prioritised, and are tailored to the particular circumstances of their jurisdiction. In developing priorities for action the Boards of Management will endeavour to work closely with the Office of the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services.
It is important to acknowledge that there are actions already underway in each jurisdiction which address a number of the issues identified by the CGRIS. Furthermore, a number of the issues have been raised previously by the CGRIS in the recommendations of his first and second reports (see Additional Comments below). Governments are in the process of progressing actions in response to those previous recommendations.
Additional comments on particular actions or approaches to the CGRIS’ issues are set out below. These comments do not capture the detail of all relevant activity currently underway in each jurisdiction, or all the elements of each issue.
Issue 1 – Strengthening Boards of Management
Boards of Management will continue to identify measures to improve their governance, including expansion of the membership. A number of Boards of Management have recently expanded their membership, for example, the South Australian Board of Management was recently broadened to include Centrelink, while the West Australian and Northern Territory Boards of Management have included representatives from local government.
A number of jurisdictions have formed COAG Building Block Working Groups (BBWG) or similar structures. The BBWGs are chaired or co-chaired by lead agencies responsible for actions in the Local Implementation Plans (LIPs). The BBWGs report regularly to the Boards of Management.
The WGIR response to Recommendation 3.1 and 4.1 of the CGRIS first report includes comment on the actions governments have committed to take in relation to flexible funding approaches, and red-tape reduction, see
Issue 2 – Baseline Mapping Reports
A summary of the key findings for each of the baseline mapping reports has been provided to the Senate Community Affairs Committee (as requested at the Additional Estimates Hearing in February 2010) and are available at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/clac_ctte/estimates/add_1011/cross/index.htm
Boards of Management and Regional Operations Centres are working to ensure that the information within the baseline mapping reports is accessible and is able be used to inform further development of the Local Implementation Plans.
Also see the WGIR response to Recommendation 3 of the CGRIS Second Report.
Issue 3 – Supporting elements of the RSD NPA (Interpreters Framework, Evaluation Framework)
The development of the National Indigenous Interpreter Framework is underway. This is being led by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in consultation with stakeholders within relevant jurisdictions and Commonwealth agencies.
A Commonwealth/State committee under the Working Group on Indigenous Reform developed a Remote Service Delivery Evaluation, Performance Indicators and Reporting Strategic Framework. The first annual evaluation will focus on improving the effectiveness of government engaging with communities, and reciprocally, helping Remote Service Delivery communities connect better with government.
A copy of the RSD Evaluation, Performance Indicators and Reporting Strategic Framework has been provided to the CGRIS.
Issue 4 – Implementation of actions in Local Implementation Plans
To support all agencies monitor their commitments, an on-line reporting tool, LIPTracker, has been developed. The system allows Commonwealth and State/Territory agencies, Boards of Management and Regional Operations Centres to track progress with actions and commitments.
LIPTracker can be accessed by Regional Operations Centre staff, and authorised users from across the whole of government.
We will continue to enhance LIPtracker with additional functionality to monitor and support the delivery of commitments in the Local Implementation Plans.
Issue 5 – Bottom up engagement – tailored assistance for Regional Operations Centres
Community Network and Decision Making ‘maps’ were compiled by ROCs, in consultation with the communities and as part of the Local Implementation Plan consultations.
The parties to the RSD NPA, along with the jurisdictional Boards of Management will continue to assess the need for additional support to Regional Operations Centres, including support to ensure they are engaging with the right decision makers.
Issue 6 – Further development of Local Implementation Plans (process and content)
The Local Implementation Plans are a negotiated local level agreement between all levels of government and communities which will continue to evolve over time as the various agreed actions are carried out and commitments delivered.
While the Local Implementation Plan development process varied across locations, they were all based on strong community engagement to identify and reach agreement with government on service priorities.
The ROCs will take into account the issues raised as they continue discussion and negotiation with communities as the LIPs are further developed.
In relation to governance and leadership see also the WGIR response to Recommendations 3.2 and 3.4 of the first CGRIS report [http://www.coag.gov.au/], and Recommendation 1.1 of the second CGRIS report.
In relation to local government see also the WGIR response to Recommendation 1.2 and 1.3 of the first CGRIS report.
In relation to pre-vocational training see the WGIR response to Recommendation 3.6 of the first CGRIS report.
Issue 7 – Infrastructure
The parties to the RSD NPA are represented on Infrastructure Australia’s Indigenous Working Group. The role of the working group is to support Infrastructure Australia’s Indigenous Sub-Committee in the development of a national strategic policy framework for remote Indigenous infrastructure planning and development. The provision and maintenance of infrastructure to support remote communities remains a very high priority.
This work will complement the process under the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing, following the completion of the national audit of municipal and essential services, to clarify government roles and responsibilities and implement revised arrangements for the funding and delivery of infrastructure and municipal and essential from 1 July 212.
Issue 8 – Community specific issues
The community specific issues highlighted by the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services will be considered in more detail by the relevant jurisdictional Boards of Management. The Boards of Management will endeavour to work closely with the Office of the CGRIS in developing and monitoring government actions in response to these issues.
Issue 9 – Schooling
The report notes the CGRIS plans to convene a roundtable discussion on school attendance with relevant bodies and Indigenous education innovators. Schooling and access to a good education is a critical issue in many communities. The parties are committed to working with all stakeholders to progress better schooling outcomes for Indigenous Australians and look forward to the opportunity to participate in any education roundtable.
The parties have advised the Office of the CGRIS that it would be appropriate to build on the work of the Senior Officers National Network of Indigenous Education that has already held several roundtables during 2011 with education officials and Indigenous education innovators on this issue. In addition, the Office of the CGRIS has been advised of the work being progressed by Education Ministers under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan to lift attendance rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This includes Action 22 which Ministers have allocated $450,000 to “further develop a better evidence base of what works in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student attendance”.
1. These structures are known as Boards of Management in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory; the State Management Committee in New South Wales; and State Operations Committee in Western Australia. They all perform similar functions in oversighting the implementation of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery in their respective jurisdictions. They are the primary governance mechanism for implementing the RSD NPA.