Social Justice Report 2004
Recommendations and follow up actions
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 5 recommendations - 2 in relation to the needs of Indigenous women exiting prison and 3 relating to the new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs. The report also contains 10 follow up actions that my office will undertake over the next twelve months in relation to the new arrangements. These and the recommendations are reproduced here and appear at the relevant part of the report.
Addressing the needs of Indigenous women exiting prison
That each State and Territory designates a coordinating agency to develop a whole of government approach to addressing the needs of Indigenous women in corrections. The Department of Justice or Attorney-General's Department would appear to be the most appropriate department for this role. The objective should be to provide a continuity of support for Indigenous women from the pre-release through to the post-release phase.
That a National Roundtable be convened to identify best practice examples of coordinating pre and post release support for Indigenous women exiting prison. The roundtable should involve Indigenous women, service providers, relevant research institutes and government. Specific focus should also be given to healing models.
The new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs
That the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination conduct a comprehensive information campaign for Indigenous people and communities explaining the structures established by the new arrangements and the processes for engaging with Indigenous people. This information must be disseminated in forms that have regard to literacy levels among Indigenous peoples and English as a second language.
That the two identified criteria (namely, a demonstrated knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures; and an ability to communicate effectively with Indigenous peoples) be mandatory for all recruitment processes in the Australian Public Service relating to the new arrangements and in particular for positions in the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination and Indigenous Coordination Centres.
That the Government refer to the Commonwealth Grants Commission an inquiry on arrangements for Indigenous funding. The review should revisit the findings of the 2001 Report on Indigenous funding in light of the new arrangements, and specifically focus on:
- the role and operation of regional Indigenous Coordination Centres in targeting regional need and implementing a whole of government approach;
- processes for establishing regional need (including the adequacy of baseline data and collection processes) and allocating funding on the basis of such need through a single budget submission process;
- the integration of regional and local level need through the Regional Participation Agreement and Shared Responsibility Agreement processes; and
- the role of regional representative Indigenous structures in these processes.
Follow up actions by Social Justice Commissioner
- In light of the importance of the lessons from the COAG whole of government community trials for the implementation of the new arrangements, the Social Justice Commissioner will over the coming twelve months:
- Consider the adequacy of processes for monitoring and evaluating the COAG trials;
- Consult with participants in the COAG trials (including Indigenous peoples) and analyse the outcomes of monitoring and evaluation processes; and
- Identify implications from evaluation of the COAG trials for the ongoing implementation of the new arrangements.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, seek to establish whether any Indigenous communities or organisations have experienced any ongoing financial difficulties or disadvantage as a result of the transition of grant management processes from ATSIS to mainstream departments and if so, will draw these to the attention of the Government so they can rectify them.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, establish what mechanisms have been put into place in framework agreements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, including in relation to health and housing, to ensure appropriate participation of Indigenous peoples.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consider the adequacy of processes for the participation of Indigenous peoples in decision making. This will include considering the adequacy of processes to link local and regional representative structures to providing advice at the national level.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with Torres Strait Islanders living on the mainland and their organisations to establish whether the new arrangements enable their effective participation in decision making.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with governments, ATSIC Regional Councils and Indigenous communities and organisations about:
- engagement by governments with ATSIC Regional Councils and the use of their Regional Plans;
- progress in developing regional representative Indigenous structures, and mechanisms for integrating such structures with community level agreement making processes.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with governments, Indigenous communities and organisations and monitor:
- processes for forming Shared Responsibility Agreements; and
- the compliance of Shared Responsibility Agreements with human rights standards, and in particular with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with the Australian Public Service Commission about:
- recruitment strategies relating to positions in the Australian Public Service involving Indigenous service delivery, program and policy design, and in particular, promoting understanding and use of identified criteria;
- the use of cultural awareness training by agencies involved in the new arrangements;
- trends in the retention of Indigenous staff across the Australian Public Service; and
- the assistance that the Commission is providing to agencies involved in the new arrangements with developing or revising Indigenous recruitment and retention policies.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with governments, Indigenous organisations and communities about:
- whether there has been a reduction in the flexibility in interpreting program guidelines since the transfer of programs from ATSIS to mainstream departments;
- best practice arrangements for coordinating the interface with Indigenous communities through the operation of ICCs; and
- arrangements to coordinate federal government processes with those of the states and territories on a regional basis.
- The Social Justice Commissioner will, over the coming twelve months, consult with governments and representative Indigenous structures about the adequacy of performance monitoring and evaluation processes to link government programs and service delivery to the commitments made through COAG, particularly the National Reporting Framework on Indigenous Disadvantage.