The federal government’s principal review and advisory body, the Productivity Commission, published its first review of the 2020 overhaul of Closing the Gap, the national framework aiming to reduce Indigenous disadvantage, reports Xinhua news agency.
Three years after federal, state and territory governments reached a landmark agreement on new targets for the framework, the Productivity Commission found that some are still making decisions that “disregard or contradict” their commitments.
“This Agreement held and continues to hold significant promise. It takes a different approach: a partnership between the government and peak Indigenous groups focused on lifting outcomes by changing the systems and structures that drive them. But so far we are seeing too much business-as-usual and too little real transformation,” commission chair Michael Brennan said in a statement.
The commission heard from 200 groups during its review, including 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organizations, and concluded that action towards the new agreement is not being felt on the ground.
“It is too easy to find examples of government decisions that contradict commitments in the Agreement, that do not reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s priorities and perspectives and that exacerbate, rather than remedy, disadvantage and discrimination,” the report said.
It said that overall progress on implementing four new priority reforms has been “slow, uncoordinated and piecemeal”.
Australians will later in 2023 vote on whether to alter the nation’s constitution to establish an independent Indigenous Voice in Parliament.
If established, the body will advise the parliament on all matters relating to Indigenous Australians in a bid to address disadvantages.
Wednesday’s report bolstered the argument in favor of the voice, finding that a business-as-usual approach taken by governments fails to grasp the scale of change required.
“Too many government agencies are implementing versions of shared decision-making that involve consulting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a pre-determined solution, rather than collaborating on the problem and co-designing a solution,” it said.