Indigenous Evaluation Strategy - Productivity Commission issues paper: response of First Nations Media Australia

Data sovereignty Digital inclusion Digital media Closing the gap Aboriginal Australians government relations Australia

First Nations Media Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Productivity Commission’s Indigenous Evaluation Strategy project and share our industry’s experiences with various evaluation methods. This submission does not respond to all consultation questions posed in the Issues Paper. Rather, it provides broad comment on the establishment of a principles-based framework for the evaluation of policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the priorities for evaluation from our perspective and supports a codesigned approach to evaluation processes.

First Nations Media's area of expertise relates to the First Nations media industry. Therefore, this response focuses on media sector experiences and does not attempt to comment on broader areas of government investment affecting the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as health or early childhood development. First Nations Media Australia is a member of the Coalition of Peaks and as such, a signatory to the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029. We are pleased to see the formal partnership between Government and the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations acknowledged within the Issues Paper and view the Joint Council between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks as an excellent means of co-designing accountability and evaluation processes moving forward.

Key Findings:

  • Digital inclusion is recognised as one of the key social justice challenges facing policy makers and communities worldwide. It is about using technology as a channel to improve skills, to enhance quality of life, to drive education, access employment opportunities and promote social and economic wellbeing. In 2019, digital inclusion equates to social inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, and is essential to Closing the Gap.
  • First Nations Media Australia encourages the Productivity Commission to include the principles of self-determination and collaboration in the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy. The best outcomes of evaluation practices occur when participants can share in the outcomes of the evaluation process. Universities operating under ethical research guidelines often do this well.
  • There are private, non-Indigenous research companies that can evaluate the content and audience outcomes relating to First Nations media on a fee-for-service basis, however they are often prohibitively expensive and inexperienced in working with First Nations communities which negatively impacts the evaluation results.
  • A collaborative approach to data collection should be taken to minimize the additional work expected of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are disproportionately burdened with the continual provision of information about multiple aspects of their lives. The Productivity Commission should seek to mitigate this through a more focused approach to data collection and the sharing of data to the greatest extent that privacy boundaries will allow.
  • In general, First Nations Media agrees with the main components of the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy outlined in the Issues Paper. We encourage the Productivity Commission to take a partner-based approach to evaluation systems, incorporating principles of self-determination, collaboration and data sovereignty to minimize the burden of evaluation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to allow for shared use of information gathered. This should include data collected by jurisdictions in a national framework approach to evaluation through the Joint Council. Digital inclusion is a current gap in evaluation systems that should be a priority to address in the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy.
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