A new engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be one of the hallmarks of this Government. As this report highlights, no one should be under any illusion about the difficulty of swiftly overcoming two centuries of comparative failure. Nevertheless, it would be complacent, even neglectful, to not redress, from day one, the most intractable difficulty our country has ever faced.
One of the first acts of the new Government was to bring the administration of more than 150 Indigenous programmes and services, from eight different government departments, into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Department, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, are working with the Prime Minister to ensure that the changes result in improved performance across government.
For too long, there has been overlap and inconsistency in the administration of Commonwealth-funded Indigenous services. Placing all Indigenous programmes in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is an opportunity to overhaul the system, to make it simpler and less burdensome, and to ensure that the right resources supported by the right capabilities go to those who need them most.
Improving governance is an essential element of strengthening the work that is already being done in communities across Australia.
The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, chaired by Mr Warren Mundine, is informing the Government’s policy work. The Council is focusing on practical changes to improve people’s lives.
Later this year, the Prime Minister will take senior officials to a remote Indigenous community for a week. This annual commitment to help in an Indigenous community reflects the Prime Minister’s belief that national leaders make better decisions when grounded in the real life of our country.
Preserving Indigenous culture and building reconciliation means doing more to ensure that children go to school, adults go to work and the ordinary rule of law operates throughout our country.
Getting children to school
Getting children to school is the Australian Government’s number one priority in Indigenous Affairs. Poor attendance means that Indigenous children find it hard to perform at school.
We must break the cycle of non-attendance to ensure today’s kids are educated and equipped to become future leaders in their communities.
From Term 1 this year, we introduced a plan to get Indigenous children back to school in 40 remote communities in the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
Getting adults to work
Our next priority is getting people into real jobs. Too often, employment and training programmes provide ‘training for training’s sake’ without delivering the practical skills people need to get real jobs.
The Government has commissioned a review of employment and training programmes led by Mr Andrew Forrest. This review will provide recommendations to make Indigenous training and employment services better targeted and administered to connect unemployed Indigenous people with real and sustainable jobs.
Safer Indigenous communities
All Australians have a right to live in a community where they can be safe.
The Government wants Indigenous Australians to live in communities where crime rates are low and people can go about the ordinary business of making a living and raising a family.
We will continue to support tough alcohol regulations across the country so all community members, particularly women, children and the elderly, can live peacefully and safely in their own homes.
Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the Government will work with state and territory governments to establish a permanent police presence in some additional remote Indigenous communities.