Social Justice Report 2003
In accordance with the functions set out
in section 46C(1)(a) of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Act 1986 (Cth), this report includes 12 recommendations. The recommendations
appear in the text of the report and are also reproduced here.
Recommendation 1 on reconciliation: Data collection
1. That the federal government request the
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to provide to COAG information on
the actions that need to be taken in order to improve Indigenous data
collection. The ABS should respond to the suggestions made by the Steering
Committee for the Review of Government Service Delivery in the Overcoming
Indigenous Disadvantage Report 2003, as well as identify actions
that they consider necessary to ensure the availability of relevant data
on a regular basis. In providing this information, the ABS should:
- identify those issues that could be addressed through
improvements to its existing data collection processes, as well as those
issues which would require additional one-off funding allocations and
those issues which would require additional recurrent funding from the
federal government or COAG;
- estimate the cost of any additional one-off and recurrent
funding needs, including the cost of conducting the Indigenous General
Social Survey on a triennial basis; and
- consult with the Steering Committee for the Review of
Government Services, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission,
and other relevant agencies.
Recommendations 2 -5 on Reconciliation: Ministerial
Council Action Plans
2. That the federal government, through
its leadership role in the Council of Australian Governments, ensure that
all Commonwealth / State Ministerial Councils finalise action plans on
addressing Indigenous disadvantage and reconciliation by 30 June 2004.
These action plans must contain benchmarks, with specific timeframes (covering
short, medium and long term objectives) for their realisation. Where appropriate,
these benchmarks should correlate with the strategic change indicators
and headline indicators reported annually by the Steering Committee for
the Provision of Government Services.
3. That the federal government, through
its leadership role in the Council of Australian Governments, request
the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to advise
COAG whether it endorses these action plans and the benchmarks contained
within, following consultations through its Regional Councils. ATSIC should
be required to advise COAG of its endorsement or any concerns about the
action plans within a maximum period of six months after being furnished
with the action plans.
4. That the federal government ensure that
all Commonwealth / State Ministerial Council Action Plans are made publicly
available as a compendium of national commitments to overcoming Indigenous
5. That COAG publicly report on progress
in meeting the benchmarks contained in each Commonwealth / State Ministerial
Council Action Plan on an annual basis.
Recommendations 6 - 9 on reconciliation: COAG Whole-of-government
6. That the federal government, through
the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, commit
to the existence of the Indigenous Communities Coordination Taskforce
for a minimum of the five year duration of the COAG whole-of-government
community trials and accordingly commit resources to the Taskforce until
7. That federal government departments participating
in the COAG whole-of-government trials increase their staffing commitments
to the Indigenous Communities Coordination Taskforce by placing additional
officers in the Taskforce's Secretariat.
8. That COAG request the Productivity Commission
(as Chair of the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service
Provision) to provide advice on aligning the benchmarks and outcomes agreed
at the local level with COAG's National Framework for Reporting on Indigenous
Disadvantage. This advice should include any recommendations for adapting
the Indigenous Communities Coordination Taskforce Database to enable reporting
of outcomes against this National Framework.
9. That COAG agree and fund an independent
monitoring and evaluation process for the whole-of-government community
trials initiative. The Productivity Commission, Commonwealth Grants Commission
or ATSIC's National Office of Evaluation and Audit would be suitable agencies
to conduct this review.
Recommendations 10-12 on capacity building and governance
10. That COAG adopt ATSIC's Integrated
framework on capacity building and sustainable development as a central
component of its Reconciliation Framework.
11. That COAG also provide funding for research
into best-practice models of governance reform and capacity building relating
to Indigenous peoples in Australia. Such research should be based on overseas
models such as the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development,
and build on the findings of existing work on governance reform in Australia.
12. That the Minister for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Affairs (Cth) ensure that reform of the Aboriginal
Councils and Associations Act 1976 (Cth) is treated as a high priority
of the federal government and ensure extensive consultation is undertaken
with Indigenous peoples about proposed amendments to the legislation.
Any proposed legislative reforms should be in accordance with the recommendations
of the 2002 review of the Act's operation. In particular, proposed amendments
should recognise the need for special regulatory assistance for Indigenous
organisations and maintain a distinct legislative framework for regulation
outside of the Corporations Act as a special measure.