Macroeconomics’ annual analysis of the Indigenous Budget highlights how difficult it is to track the effort to ‘Close the Gap’ across jurisdictions, portfolios, programs, and reports that too often highlight the lack of key data to measure progress.
The 2011-12 Budget provides $613.4 million over 5 years for Indigenous programs across several portfolios. Only $500 million of this is new money; the remainder is redirected from other Indigenous programs. Of these funds: $237.7 million is for health; $226.1 million is for education and training; $100.4 million is for employment; $34.0 million is for welfare reform; and $15.2 million is for broadcasting.
Progress in ‘Closing the Gap’ on Indigenous disadvantage is slow – a story of one step forward, two steps back. A long-term investment is needed if the established goals are to be met in the timeframe promised. It is disconcerting to see investment levels in ‘Closing the Gap’ already dropping and established programs relying on last minute, short-term funding when what is required is funding certainty and a regular cycle of evaluation of effectiveness to inform the refining of policies and programs.
The Bulletin also finds that many programs suffer from the fact that their funding is tied to evaluation reports. However this reliance on intermittent reports and the failure to maintain a continuing feedback cycle to inform policy initiatives hinders the ability to develop and implement the long-term approach that is required.