Submission by the Yothu Yindi Foundation to the Productivity Commission’s Indigenous evaluation strategy

Aboriginal Australians economic conditions Aboriginal Australians government relations Low socioeconomic status Northern Territory

TheYothu Yindi Foundation's (YYF) submission provides a series of recommendations aimed at root and branch reform of this current system that now commodifies the disadvantage of Aboriginal people in favour of government, its agencies and service providers. Of importance is their submission that the Northern Territory is a special case where poverty in remote areas has become entrenched and special measures are required to break the cycle. Fixing this broken system is also essential to the future of the Northern Territory as a whole. At some point the disadvantage in the remote areas will overwhelm the administrative centres of Darwin and Alice Springs and, already, that poverty is preventing productive development of the people and economies of those regions, whilst causing enormous hardship and suffering to individuals and their families.

Key points:

  • YYF has long argued that the extreme disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people who live in remote & regional areas can be understood by looking to the underspending, misspending, administrative failures and lack of infrastructure spending by Governments in relation to the actual needs of the people who live in these regions.
  • The policy failures & resultant social and economic cost brought about by these failures maintain the disadvantage of remote Aboriginal people to the advantage of those tending to it – in other words, the greater the disadvantage, the bigger the payment to treasury.
  • There has never been any serious evaluation of these failures, and very rarely, if ever, are there penalties for failure. In fact, there is a perverse reward for maintaining disadvantage - failure to improve conditions results in increased disadvantage and therefore validates increased payments to programs run and administered by government or non-government agencies.
  • The National Indigenous Australians Agency should decide the terms upon which the funds are provided to service delivery agencies whether a Northern Territory government agency or otherwise. Similarly the NIAA will then be responsible for the audit and evaluation of those funds against standard evaluation formula. The NIAA will also be responsible for taking action for noncompliance with grant agreements, or non-performance in terms of delivery of grant objectives.

It is the view of the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) that the system of government and administration in the Northern Territory is close to breaking point and is likely to have already reached a point of no return. The system in the Territory is so out of order that it has turned in upon itself such that the low socio-economic conditions of remote Aboriginal Australia have become the means by which the system maintains itself – the higher the disadvantage, the higher the payments to agencies

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