Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 17 August 2017) . . Page.. 2957 ..
ACT prevention of violence against women and children strategy 2011-17 is being finalised at the end of this year, our local initiatives will in subsequent years be aligned with the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children, the third action plan, sometimes referred to as 3AP. This will reduce duplication of reporting requirements, allowing the ACT to focus more attention on supporting the initiatives identified in the safer families package. On behalf of the Deputy Chief Minister, I commend the bill.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (5.10): The Indigenous affairs portfolio covers many areas: education, health and workforce planning, which l have already spoken briefly on. In this chamber on 7 August last year Chris Bourke presented the ACT Closing the Gap Report 2015, only the third for the ACT. The report was intended to bring together information on programs and initiatives, as well as key performance data on the ACT’s progress in improving life outcomes for Canberra’s Indigenous communities. With that report already 12 months behind on key information, he announced it would be the last one.
No longer would the government report using the national targets set by the COAG agreement. Instead, they would use the seven key focus areas of the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agreement. But this agreement does not include any outcomes or targets; it is just very nice words or, as members of the Indigenous community tell us, “Just a bunch of meaningless words, and we are tired of words.” It emerged during the estimates hearings that future reports would use an outcomes framework to be developed alongside the new agreement. But the framework does not exist. What we heard during the estimates hearings from the office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs was that the outcomes framework that would set the targets was “underway”. This is two years after the launch of the agreement and a year after it was announced that this would drive future action. So for the last two to three years the directorates have had no real targets to aim for to improve the outcomes for Indigenous Canberrans.
This clearly explains why there is so much dismal failure of this government in the important area of Indigenous affairs. It is easy to miss targets if none have been set. To me, though, it begs the question: why remove the COAG targets if you have nothing to replace them with? If this is of the highest priority, as mentioned by the director in the estimates hearings, why has it still not been developed? In reviewing the budget papers for this year I cannot discover that extra funding was set aside for the development of the outcomes framework or a strategic objective listed for 2017-18 or an accountability indicator. I note that there is an accountability indicator for the development of the next agreement, yet it would seem the current agreement was not completed. The outcomes framework is missing, leaving the directorates with little strategic direction for making a difference for moving forward.
Indigenous affairs is an area that needs a greater level of clarity. The Canberra community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, deserve to know what efforts are being made to improve the outcomes of Indigenous members of the community. They deserve to know what programs are in place, what money is being spent and how well that money is meeting its targets. We agree with the estimates committee that to continue to move forward the government needs to examine how other jurisdictions