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HREOC Social Justice Report 2002: Chapter 3 - National progress towards reconcilation in 2002 - an equitable partnership?

Social Justice Report 2002

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  • Chapter
    3: National progress towards reconciliation in 2002 - an equitable partnership?

    policy within the broader context of strategic leadership for Australia

    ‘practical reconciliation’

    'Changing Direction', the 5-point plan

    'Agreement making and sharing common ground'

    Expenditure on Indigenous-specific programmes

    The Council of Australian Government's reconciliation framework

    The Government's Response to the Commonwealth Grants Commission's
    Report on Indigenous Funding

    The Government's Response to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's
    Final Report - Reconciliation: Australia's Challenge

    A minimalist response to symbolic issues

    b) The perceived divisiveness of self-determination

    c) An emphasis on perceived areas of agreement

    d) Misrepresenting progress towards practical


    In launching the
    Social Justice Report 2001 in May 2002, I asked the question 'whatever
    happened to reconciliation?' The findings of the Report were endorsed
    by Indigenous leaders at a series of regional launches across Australia
    who expressed concern at the lack of progress towards reconciliation.
    [1] The lack of any formal response by the federal Government
    (or in fact by any state or territory government) to the documents of
    reconciliation produced by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (the
    Council or CAR) and to the recommendations of the Social Justice Report
    on implementing a human rights approach to reconciliation were
    noted as outstanding issues.

    Since those launches
    there have been some significant developments in relation to reconciliation.
    The concerns expressed in the Social Justice Report 2001 were acted
    upon by the Senate which established a Legal and Constitutional References
    Committee inquiry into national progress towards reconciliation in August
    2002. The Committee will hold public hearings in the first quarter of
    2003 and release its report at the end of March 2003. Since the establishment
    of this inquiry, the Government has provided a formal response to the
    Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's documents. It continues, however,
    to maintain that it has no obligation or intention of responding to the
    recommendations of the Social Justice Report 2001.

    The Government outlined
    its approach to Indigenous affairs through a range of documents - principally,
    speeches at national conferences by the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander Affairs; responses to the CAR documents and the Commonwealth
    Grants Commission's Report on Indigenous Funding; and through the
    agreement of actions to be undertaken by the Council of Australian Governments,
    particularly a commitment to undertaking ten whole-of-government community
    trials and the establishment of an indicative framework for measuring
    Indigenous disadvantage. In November 2002, HREOC convened a workshop on
    benchmarking reconciliation and human rights to consider the implications
    of these developments.

    As noted in the previous
    chapter, despite suggestions from the Government to the contrary, the
    year 2002 has been one of 'business as usual' with a continuation, and
    indeed refinement, of its 'practical reconciliation' agenda. This chapter
    discusses the limiting parameters set by the Government for Indigenous
    policy development and identifies how these fit within the Government's
    overall policy approach. It also considers how their approach undermines
    the equitable participation of Indigenous peoples in pursuing their own
    development and empowerment. This is advanced through the Government's
    continuing minimalist response to the symbolic dimension of reconciliation,
    its affirmation of basic citizenship rights to the exclusion of inherent
    Indigenous rights, the misrepresentation of Indigenous self-determination
    as divisive, and a disingenuous emphasis on perceived areas of agreement
    at the expense of continuing debate on other outstanding issues.

    Chapter 4 then looks
    specifically at the framework currently being developed under the auspices
    of the Council of Australian Governments to measure progress in addressing
    Indigenous disadvantage. The importance of this framework, being developed
    by the Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth / State Service
    Provision, cannot be underestimated. A range of concerns about the process
    were identified, however, at the workshop on benchmarking reconciliation
    and human rights which are discussed in chapter 4.

    An overview of progress
    in partnerships and agreement-making across the states and territories
    is then provided in Appendix 1 of this Report.

    policy within the broader context of strategic leadership for Australia

    In November 2002
    the Prime Minister released an important document identifying the long
    term strategic goals and approach of the Government. Titled Strategic
    leadership for Australia - policy directions in a complex world
    , the
    document identifies what the Government sees as the key strategic issues
    facing Australia. Surprisingly, the document does not make a single reference
    to Indigenous peoples.

    While reconciliation
    had been identified by the Prime Minister as one of the Government's key
    priorities during its second term of office, it is no longer identified
    as a key priority or strategic direction for the Government. It is a very
    telling omission.

    The document identifies
    the philosophical underpinning of the Government's approach to all policy
    making as: self-reliance, equality of opportunity and equality of treatment
    for all Australians, pulling together and having a go. [2]

    It must be noted
    that Indigenous peoples are not opposed to these four ideals. They share
    them equally with the rest of society. They do so, however, as distinct
    peoples with their own systems of law, culture and responsibilities. But
    applied in an a-historical way, without acknowledging the systemic entrenched
    marginalisation of Indigenous peoples, these values have the potential
    to ferment intolerance towards the situation of Indigenous peoples.

    This blind spot in
    the Government's vision of an all-inclusive civil society has far-reaching
    implications for Indigenous peoples. There is a very real danger that
    the Government's strategic focus is moving towards issues which are of
    marginal relevance to Indigenous peoples' circumstances, at the expense
    of a more sustained focus on the distinct problems faced, perhaps uniquely,
    by Indigenous communities.

    A matter of grave
    concern in this regard is the emphasis that the Government strategy places
    on dealing with the consequences of an ageing population. It states:

    The dramatic changes
    in the structure and the composition of our population present many
    challenges as well as opportunities for our country. The Intergenerational
    Report, released by Peter Costello with the last Budget, was a very
    important step in recognising and preparing for population ageing issues.
    The report revealed that although Australia was relatively well placed
    compared with other OECD countries we must act to ensure we maintain
    this advantage. [3]

    The fundamental importance
    of dealing with an ageing population is indisputable. However, the lack
    of attention to the implications of the most marginalised and disadvantaged
    group in Australia facing a population explosion in young age groups is
    a damning absence in this shift of focus to dealing with the consequences
    of an ageing population.

    This is a well-documented,
    emerging crisis facing Indigenous policy design. The uniqueness and size
    of the problem is demonstrated by considering the following information.
    Since 1981, the number of deaths for the Australian population has increased
    by an average of 1% per year, reflecting both the ageing and the increasing
    size of the population. [4] In 2001, the median age at
    death was 76 years for males and 82 years for females, an increase of
    6 and 5 years respectively on the 1981 rates.

    This compares with
    the median age at death for Indigenous males of 52 years and 58 years
    for females (i.e., 24 years less than their non-Indigenous counterparts).
    [5] In addition not only is the Indigenous population
    growing at a faster rate (2.3 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent annually),
    but its median age is younger (20 years compared to 35 years) and nearly
    twice as many Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous people are under 15
    years of age (almost 40 per cent compared to just over 20 per cent). Similarly,
    only 2.8 per cent of the Indigenous population are aged over 65 compared
    to 12.5 per cent of the non-Indigenous population. [6]

    This demographic
    profile will make it difficult to maintain the current status quo of inequality
    experienced by Indigenous people, yet alone prevent it from deteriorating
    even further.

    The lack of focus
    on these issues is a disappointing and substantial omission from the Government's
    strategic directions into the longer term. It is a matter of great concern
    that a framework that focuses on individual empowerment, basic citizenship
    rights and inclusiveness can so swiftly occlude the differences and inequities
    experienced by the most disadvantaged group in Australia from the broader
    policy making lens.

    'practical reconciliation'

    The tone for government
    policy on reconciliation over the past year was set when the Minister
    for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs announced at the ATSIC
    National Policy Conference in March 2002 that the Government was 'changing
    direction' on Indigenous policy and proposed a '5-point plan' to underpin
    Indigenous policy formulation. [7]

    As noted in the previous
    chapter, some of the key aspects outlined in this new agenda include:

    • a rejection of
      self-determination as the appropriate basis for Indigenous policy development;

    • an emphasis on
      'inclusiveness', which is defined as 'sameness' and 'the freedom (for
      Indigenous peoples) to make their own choices and to achieve the same
      sorts of opportunities and outcomes as other Australians';

    • support for Indigenous
      peoples to have meaningful opportunities to exercise control over aspects
      of their own affairs and to be engaged to the maximum extent possible
      as partners in the design and delivery of services; and

    • the confinement
      of such control within the context of citizenship entitlements and the
      'same' benefits (or common rights) that all other Australians are entitled
      to, and as not extending to anything that would result in any perceived
      relinquishment of responsibility for and control over those aspects
      of well-being over which the Government 'rightly has jurisdiction'.

    It is ironic that
    while promoting this agenda the Government has continually emphasised
    its commitment to developing partnerships and to agreement-making with
    Indigenous peoples. There is little evidence to suggest that the Government
    is prepared to implement any measures to ensure equity of treatment for
    Indigenous people as partners in these processes. Indeed, one of the distinguishing
    features of the Government's policy approach over the past year has been
    the clear lack of substantiated research and thorough consultation with
    Indigenous people with negotiated outcomes.

    The Government's
    position on reconciliation can be identified from the following six main
    processes and documents.

    1) 'Changing
    Direction', the 5-point plan

    The 5-point plan
    outlined by Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
    reinforces the Government's minimalist policy agenda on practical reconciliation.
    It is notable that the 'new' agenda announced in the speech was not based
    on any consultation or negotiation with Indigenous people, apart from
    the Minister's report of his own ad hoc discussions with Indigenous communities.
    While the Minister claims he is putting forward his policy perspective
    in 'a spirit of frank and honest debate, not a pre-determined prescription',
    [9] he severely proscribes the parameters for discussion
    to basic citizenship entitlements as they relate to the individual.

    The Minister asserts
    that the emphasis of the new agenda for Indigenous rights must be on the
    achievement of individual citizenship rights in the domain of education,
    health, housing, employment and a safe environment for families. The rights
    to culture, to own land for cultural, economic and social purposes and
    to contribute to environmental preservation are mentioned secondarily
    to these. There is no acceptance of the importance of recognising inherent
    rights such as native title and self-determination as the foundation for
    protection of Indigenous property rights, culture and society. The focus
    is effectively narrowed to delivery of outcomes in the context of citizenship

    We must aim for
    a future in which Indigenous people can share equitably in the social
    and economic opportunities of the nation. But to make better gains we
    need a far stronger focus on encouraging and supporting families to:-

    • Become self-reliant;
    • Take responsibility
      for themselves and their families;
    • Contribute constructively
      to their communities and the wider society. [10]

    As discussed in the
    previous chapter, self-determination as it occurs within the Minister's
    model of an 'inclusive society' [11] is defined in
    terms of individual rather than collective rights - that is, 'individuals
    being able to determine their own destiny'. [12]

    This approach admits
    little difference between the exercise of rights promoted for Indigenous
    and non-Indigenous Australians. The rights available to Indigenous Australians
    are inflected with the same values that drive the Government's agenda
    of policy reform across all sectors - those of self-reliance, equality
    of opportunity and treatment, pulling together as a community, and having
    a go. [13] Essentially these values permit an approach
    to Indigenous policy development based on formal equality with only limited
    recognition of cultural difference.[14]

    This emphasis on
    individual self-reliance and citizenship rights is clear in the Minister's
    5-point plan. The five points are:

    • A need to shift
      the Indigenous policy focus to individuals and families;
    • Replacement of
      welfare dependency with economic independence;
    • A need to recognise
      a partnership of shared responsibility between governments and Indigenous
    • An emphasis on
      substance abuse; and
    • Targeting of
      Indigenous-specific programme resources to areas of greatest need.[15]

    Thus the Minister
    explains that the goal of replacing welfare disadvantage with economic
    independence is 'to liberate the individual from poverty and disadvantage'.[16]
    Problems of corporate governance within Indigenous community organisations
    become the rationale for a shift to individual and family rights. This
    emphasis on the individual is pivotal to the Government's mutual obligation
    approach to welfare reform, which also emphasises self-reliance and the
    individual's relationship to the State as a locus for change and is a-historical
    in its approach, giving little attention to the underlying causes and
    socio-economic context of Indigenous disadvantage.[17]

    The individualist
    emphasis of practical reconciliation lays the foundation for the dilution
    of anything that is particularly distinctive about Indigenous culture
    within the context of capacity-building and governance. While family is
    integral to Indigenous culture, and is a more appropriate focus than that
    of the individual and in some respects, the community,[18]
    there are little grounds for confidence that the Government's policy approach
    to Indigenous affairs, as embodied in this speech and elsewhere will take
    the specific family structures of Indigenous societies into account. The
    Minister claims to endorse the Five Rights which form the basis of the
    ATSIC Board's Indigenous policy and advocacy approach. These are headed
    by the right of Indigenous peoples in Australia 'to maintain their distinct
    identities as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples'.[19]
    But the Government's individualist agenda does not indicate any basis
    for sustaining these identities or for participation in terms other than
    those set by the western liberal democratic state.

    This is evident in
    the Minister's discussion of capacity-building and governance. Difficulties
    with governance in Indigenous communities are related to the effects of
    cultural disruption, alcohol and welfare dependency. Implementing change

    Community partners
    with sound local leadership and effective community management for the
    reality to match the rhetoric. Today there are many Indigenous communities
    where that capacity just isn't there. Tragically, all too often, community
    capacity has been misappropriated in the pursuit of personal power and
    advantage. Meeting these challenges is broadly defined as building community

    This approach to
    building community capacity presents a negative and reductive view of
    Indigenous people which defines their communities and social organisation
    in terms of poor management. The antidote put forward is an Indigenous
    leadership involved 'not simply in terms of advocacy for their people,
    but just as importantly as advocates to their people' who 'have recognised
    the importance of acting on and emphasising personal responsibility'.[21]

    Once again the mandate
    is for individuals to be self-determining. There is no space permitted
    for anything specifically Indigenous as the grounds for capacity-building
    such as inherent rights to land, political status and the pursuit of economic,
    social and cultural development. While good governance is integral to
    any form of political, social or economic organisation, Indigenous or
    non-Indigenous, corporate governance is not the only aspect of Indigenous
    governance that needs to be taken into account. Corporate governance must
    be accompanied by political, community and cultural factors. The respect
    for individual autonomy at the expense of cultural autonomy in the Minister's
    speech erodes the basis for Indigenous self-government in self-determination.
    The place for the recognition and protection of Indigenous social and
    cultural structures and the capacity for Indigenous people to determine
    their own forms of governance is immediately sidelined. The Government's
    policy position on Indigenous affairs remains one of assimilation into
    the mainstream population.

    This approach is
    underscored by a skeptical allusion to the potential for the rights agenda
    to support Indigenous self-government. The Minister states: 'When some
    people talk about rights, they talk about structures, they talk about
    bureaucracy, they talk about separate entitlements'.[22]
    As I discuss below in regard to the Government's Response to the CGC Report,
    fiscal responsibility is essential to Indigenous self-determination and
    self-government - and for that matter, to any serious agenda of self-management
    and empowerment. The rights agenda presented by the Minister's speech
    effectively strips away the right of Indigenous Australians to define
    their own destiny, governance and culture as autonomous peoples and promotes
    their absorption within rather than their co-existence with the Government's
    neo-rationalist conception of society as an 'aggregation of individuals'.[23]

    2) 'Agreement
    making and sharing common ground'

    In his speech at
    the ATSIC National Treaty Conference in August 2002, titled 'Agreement
    making and sharing common ground', the Minister refuted claims that the
    Government's approach to Indigenous policy was underpinned by notions
    of assimilation. He argued instead that his agenda was sourced in the
    ideal of an inclusive society:

    Australia can only
    claim to be a truly inclusive society when Indigenous Australians have
    the freedom to make their own choices and to achieve the same sorts
    of opportunities and outcomes as other Australians. When I have used
    the term inclusiveness before, some commentators have confused this
    with the old assimilation policies of the past. That is not what I am
    saying at all. The Government recognises the special place that Indigenous
    people occupy in this country as the 'first Australians'. We believe
    that Indigenous Australians must be able to enjoy the same rights and
    responsibilities as other Australians. Indigenous Australians should
    have the opportunity to enjoy their own culture and to share the benefits
    and responsibilities that this country offers to all citizens. By inclusiveness
    I mean embracing and celebrating differences because it is those differences
    that determine what we are as a nation.[24]

    While this argument
    emphasises the citizenship rights available to Indigenous Australians
    it does not elaborate what recognition of the special place that Indigenous
    peoples occupy as the 'first Australians' or recognition of Indigenous
    culture might entail. Indigenous Australians are permitted to enjoy and
    celebrate their culture but there is no clear indication that their culture
    will be recognised as a source of legitimate rights that can provide the
    basis for the recognition and protection of Indigenous land and heritage,
    Indigenous use of resources, Indigenous art and intellectual production.

    The offer of inclusiveness
    to Indigenous Australians without consideration of the rights and values
    inherent within Indigenous cultures sounds all too much like invitation
    to conform to mainstream Australian society without extending a reciprocal
    invitation to non-Indigenous Australia to examine its relationship to
    the Indigenous population. Inclusiveness as defined in the Minister's
    speech is potentially a form of neo-assimilation. Essentially, the Government
    is not prepared to validate Indigenous culture by creating a space for
    Indigenous peoples to define culture and society in their own terms.

    The Council for Aboriginal
    Reconciliation's documents of reconciliation and proposed reconciliation
    framework legislation provided processes for the Government to consider
    for the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights. The rejection
    of these by Government, most recently in its response to the CAR's final
    report, will be discussed in further detail below.

    3) Expenditure
    on Indigenous-specific programmes

    A major component
    of the Government's approach to reconciliation is its reference to the
    record high levels of expenditure on Indigenous affairs. In the 2002-03
    Budget this record expenditure reached $2.5 billion on Indigenous-specific
    programmes. Most of the increase on previous years was a flow-on from
    the $327 million of initiatives over 4 years announced in the 2001-02

    As I noted last year
    in regard to Budget 2001 this injection of additional funding still falls
    a long way short of the necessary funds projected to meet outstanding
    deficits across a range of key areas. For example, in the area of housing
    $75 million has been provided over 4 years to address an estimated deficit
    of $3 billion. In health, $4 million is provided over 4 years against
    an estimated required minimum of $245 million per annum. Native title
    representative bodies receive $17.4 million of the $86 million for native
    title funding, regardless of the economic disparities between Indigenous
    and other parties in the native title process and despite the fact that
    Indigenous participants in the system are the only ones who are required
    to use an outcome-based criteria for funding: 'other (non-Indigenous)
    parties receive funding to engage in mediation or negotiation without
    regard to outcomes'.[25]

    The Budget also did
    not provide any increase in the Government's existing allocation of $11
    million funding for Indigenous-specific family violence projects over
    a four-year period, despite the intense media attention given to this
    subject over the past year and the Government's use of this issue to reinforce
    its call for a practical reconciliation. Instead the Senate Estimates
    process revealed that the Government underspent $4.3 million under the
    Office for the Status of Women's program for domestic violence. ATSIC
    spent $4.9 million on Indigenous family violence issues and claimed that
    they could easily have spent the extra $4.3 million on programs to improve
    community safety for Indigenous women and children.[26]

    While violence in
    Indigenous communities was a high profile issue in 2001, the amount of
    public policy attention given to this issue is beginning to wane. Of note
    are the findings of Putting the picture together, the Western Australian
    Government's Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints
    of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities (the Gordon
    Report) which indicated that:

    • Indigenous women
      account for as much as 50 per cent of all domestic violence incidents
      even though they account for less than 3 per cent of the population;

    • Indigenous women
      are 45 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Aboriginal
      women and 10 times more likely to die as a result; and

    • The level of substantiated
      child abuse is over seven times the rate of non-Indigenous communities.[27]

    Similarly, while
    the Cape York Justice Study found a strong interrelationship between
    the incidence of violence and alcohol and substance abuse, it also found
    that the operation of the justice system only intensified these problems
    and did not allow for the communities themselves to address justice issues.

    Reconciliation Australia
    stated in their Reconciliation Report Card 2002 that progress had
    been slow in addressing family and community violence, despite COAG's
    commitment to leadership in preventing violence in November 2000. Progress
    in responding to Reconciliation Australia's call for an audit of services,
    capacity-building and identification of best practice models for addressing
    violence has been particularly slow. Co-Chair Jackie Huggins commented
    that: 'it is 15 months since Reconciliation Australia made this call -
    and was widely supported for doing so - but agreeing on what should be
    done, and how, has become "mired in process"'.[28]

    4) The
    Council of Australian Government's reconciliation framework

    There have been three
    main developments at the inter-government level in the past year. These
    are the submission of COAG's progress report for 2001; the commissioning
    of the Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service
    Provision to produce a regular report against key indicators of Indigenous
    disadvantage; and the establishment of a trial of a whole-of-governments
    cooperative approach in up to 10 Indigenous communities or regions.

    The COAG Reconciliation
    Framework: Report on Progress in 2001
    (Progress Report) was released
    subsequent to the COAG communiqué of 5 April 2002. The report gives
    details of the progress made by governments in addressing the COAG priorities
    of leadership, reviewing and re-engineering programmes to assist Indigenous
    families and promoting Indigenous economic independence.

    While there is evidence
    of much good will in the Report, there is yet to be substantial progress
    made in addressing Indigenous disadvantage. Much of the Progress Report
    is devoted to detailing initiatives that are already in train and which
    consequently, have not necessarily been driven by COAG's priorities or
    commitments. These initiatives include the Cape York Justice Strategy,
    the Mutitjulu Community Participation Agreement, and the Victorian Aboriginal
    Justice Agreement.

    Of particular concern
    are the developments (or lack of them) in regard to reporting Indigenous
    data and the establishment of action plans by each of the Ministerial
    Councils under COAG. This is in keeping with the Government's repeated
    tardiness in developing adequate forms of monitoring for reporting on
    Indigenous data and progress in overcoming disadvantage.[29]
    As ATSIC Chairman Geoff Clark observes, the COAG Reconciliation Framework
    progress report 2002 is 'evidence, moreover, that government rhetoric
    is outpacing its ability to deliver'. [30] The next
    progress report is to be submitted by the end of 2003.

    The April 2002 COAG
    meeting agreed to commission the Steering Committee for the Review of
    Commonwealth/State Service Provision (SCRCSSP) to develop a framework
    for reporting on key indicators of Indigenous disadvantage. This responsibility
    had originally resided with the Ministerial Council for Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander Affairs (MCATSIA) prior to being transferred to
    the Steering Committee. I have been critical of the lack of capacity of
    MCATSIA to provide an appropriate, effective monitoring mechanism for
    progress on Indigenous issues (such as responding to Bringing them
    ) and so welcome the transfer of responsibility to the independent
    Steering Committee.

    The Steering Committee
    will publish a Framework for reporting on Indigenous disadvantage in
    August/September 2003, which will be included in the COAG report on reconciliation
    in December 2003. It is intended that the framework will provide a regular
    focal point for the assessment of progress on reconciliation in relation
    to eight strategic areas for action. It is holistic in its intent and
    does not seek to provide indicators which relate purely to one issue or
    department's activities. It is anticipated that the reporting under the
    framework will facilitate debate about the adequacy and appropriateness
    of policies and programs in functional areas. The details of the proposed
    model are discussed more fully in chapter 4.

    At this stage, the
    proposed framework provides - in addition to the Social Justice Reports
    and Reconciliation Australia's annual report cards - the only evaluative
    mechanism on the Government's progress towards practical reconciliation.
    While the framework is an important development, it is of great concern
    that it is not accompanied by other processes which ensure sufficient
    and appropriate Indigenous participation in setting priorities and qualitative
    monitoring processes. As a result, the framework as a stand alone mechanism
    has the potential to reinforce practical reconciliation and marginalise
    further issues of significance to Indigenous peoples.

    The implication of
    the framework in its present form is that issues of governance and capacity-building,
    for example, are to be defined, as in the '5-point plan', in myopic and
    culturally-reductive terms of individual citizenship rights and the western
    nuclear family structure. Other concerns include fears that that the framework
    may be too sterile or generic and requires qualitative contextual discussion.
    A comment made on the framework at HREOC's Benchmarking Reconciliation
    workshop was that the framework does not seem to grapple with the issue
    of culturally appropriate service delivery mechanisms, with the danger
    that it could reinforce the status quo rather than challenge institutions
    to change.

    The framework also
    needs to negotiate the continuing problems with data availability and
    statistical collection, differentiation between population groups, and
    linkage with other reporting processes. In the case of the latter, it
    has been suggested that there should be a third tier that is tied to service
    delivery, although this could also be appropriately covered under the
    Ministerial action plans process. The role of the private sector in responding
    to Indigenous disadvantage and how this can be reported on also needs

    Another concern expressed
    at HREOC's workshop was that this framework, with its emphasis on reporting
    lacks and deficits in regard to policy and program areas impacting on
    Indigenous disadvantage may in time become an 'annual misery index'. It
    was noted that the decision-making process for the framework is non-Indigenous
    at all stages, and proposed that Indigenous participation be ensured in
    negotiating the framework. These issues are considered further in chapter
    4 of this Report.

    A third initiative
    announced by COAG during the year was a trial of a 'whole-of-government'
    approach to service delivery in ten Indigenous communities. This initiative
    involves cooperation across government agencies under the leadership of
    a taskforce directed by a group of Commonwealth departmental secretaries,
    also includes ATSIC representation.

    Communities are selected
    as a result of consultation between state and federal governments, local
    governments and the communities themselves. This process includes establishing
    the focus of joint action within the particular jurisdiction. It is driven
    by the concept of shared responsibility and aims to evaluate whether a
    focused and coordinated approach can make a difference to specific communities
    or areas. The departments involved have pooled funding for the task force's
    administration of the project. Development of an evaluation framework
    for the trials is currently in progress.[31]

    The first trial has
    commenced in the Cape York region under a partnership between the Commonwealth
    and state governments and the local communities, and a second has begun
    in the Wadeye community in the Northern Territory under the direction
    of the Department of Family and Community Services. It is understood that
    the third trial will be in the Murdi Paaki ATSIC region in Western New
    South Wales.

    This is a significant
    and commendable initiative. However, the impact of duplication and poor
    coordination services at an interagency level on service delivery to Indigenous
    communities have been observed for some time in regard to increasing levels
    of Indigenous disadvantage.[32] ATSIC Chairman Geoff
    Clark comments in the ATSIC Annual Report 2001-2002:

    ATSIC has consistently
    advocated the need for whole-of-government coordination and the primacy
    of Indigenous decision-making within programs. What the Minister for
    Indigenous Affairs calls a 'new direction' is in fact a repackaging
    of directions that have been pointed out by our community and in a multitude
    of reports stretching back many years.[33]

    In fact a range of
    approaches, including partnerships, agreements and governance arrangements,
    have been proposed with the aim of improving the service delivery environment
    for Indigenous Australians, most recently the Community Participation
    Agreements (CPA) being trialled by ATSIC as part of the Budget 2001 welfare
    reform package.[34] The Mutitjulu CPA, which was discussed
    in the chapter on governance and capacity-building in last year's Social
    Justice Report
    , has since been discontinued. This is no small part
    due to inflexibility and unwillingness to change current service delivery
    approaches at the federal level.

    ATSIC are currently
    involved in the early stages of consultation and implementation with a
    further fifteen to seventeen communities nationally for CPAs. They are
    considering similar arrangements for five communities in the Tjarabalan
    region in Western Australia and for three communities at Cape York. There
    are plans to establish up to twenty CPAs by the end of 2002-03.

    In order to avoid
    replication of past problems it is crucial that the fundamental issues
    concerning Indigenous service delivery be addressed and factored into
    the trial's processes and evaluation framework.[35]

    In the context of
    the whole-of-government community trials, it is essential that the rights
    and autonomy of Indigenous partners must be respected to ensure effective
    participation. This means establishing Indigenous ownership of processes
    and structures involved in modelling, and the relationship of Indigenous
    kinship and authority to these. As the Social Justice Report 2001 commented
    in regard to the CPA modelling:

    … it is important
    that some of the more fundamental issues concerning the respective roles
    and authority of Indigenous, government and other partners are re-visited,
    or in time these new models may run the risk of becoming yet another
    case of a failed Indigenous policy initiative and a further source of
    'blaming the victim'.[36]

    The other side of
    the partnership requires clarity, consistency and continuity of commitment
    on the behalf of participating government agencies. Diane Smith made the
    following observations about interagency involvement in the context of
    the Mutitjulu CPA:

    Departmental coordination
    has been an oft-stated government policy objective that has worn thin
    from overuse and under-implementation. One has to question whether it
    is a real possibility, or whether is it merely serves as a convenient
    placebo for lack of capacity to deliver on the part of government and
    its departments. These agreements will constitute a challenge to the
    capacity of ATSIC, DFACS, Centrelink and DEWRSB, in particular, to formulate
    the coherent enabling policy and consolidated program platform that
    are needed.[37]

    Smith's comments
    are relevant to arrangements such as CPAs and the whole-of-government
    community trials where departmental coordination is pivotal. The Government
    and other commentators have been eager to impress the need for Indigenous
    communities to take responsibility in overcoming disadvantage and its
    related problems. Equal emphasis needs to be given to the responsibility
    of governments and government departments and agencies in improving their
    performance in regard to Indigenous communities.

    One of the observations
    made at HREOC's workshop on benchmarking reconciliation was that if a
    whole-of-government approach is to be implemented properly through these
    kind of initiatives, agencies need to overcome a 'silo effect' in terms
    of their communication and negotiation with Indigenous communities and
    with each other. Another important aspect of interagency involvement is
    the maintenance of continuity of corporate knowledge in this area, including
    awareness of the specific needs and cultural issues relevant to Indigenous
    communities. The development of partnerships, agreements and other capacity
    building and governance arrangements also needs considerable time investment,
    including commitments to meeting assessable goals and objectives over
    a set time-frame.

    A further issue that
    models such as the CPA initiative and the whole-of-government community
    trials highlight is the need for a longer term commitment such as a five
    to ten year funding period to make any inroads on current disadvantage.
    Long-term funding commitments would further require support across successive
    terms of governments such as bi-partisan agreements for improving Indigenous
    capacity-building and governance.[38] Modelling processes
    should also be flexible enough to accommodate investigation of new funding
    and governance arrangements, and make recommendations for legislative
    reform to support these where necessary.

    In addition, the
    need to establish protocols and principles for negotiation with Indigenous
    communities is vital in ensuring equity in processes of consultation and
    negotiation. Some examples of principles for negotiation with Indigenous
    peoples are those put forward to Government by ATSIC, CAR and HREOC as
    part of the social justice package proposals in 1995 and the use of human
    rights principles for negotiating framework agreements for native title
    in the Native Title Report 2001.[39] Ultimately
    trials and models such as the COAG whole-of-government initiative and
    the ATSIC CPAs may further require recognition that extensive participation
    by Indigenous peoples and partnership with government in regard to governance
    and capacity-building cannot be countenanced without consideration of
    the dimension of self-determination and self-government.

    5) The
    Government's Response to the Commonwealth Grants Commission'
    Report on Indigenous Funding

    The Commonwealth
    Grants Commission's (CGC) inquiry into Indigenous funding and subsequent
    report have been of enormous value in identifying the limitations and
    problems of Indigenous service delivery and inter-governmental relations.

    The Government responded
    to the CGC's report in June 2002. It welcomed the Commission's Report

    … a watershed
    moment in documenting and analysing the available information on the
    supply of and demand for programs and services for Indigenous people.
    The Government also sees the report as providing a valuable basis for
    the further development of evidence-based policy in Indigenous affairs.[40]

    The Government noted
    that its response to the CGC Report built on the Government's commitment
    to address the underlying and contemporary causes of Indigenous disadvantage,
    not just its symptoms.[41] That commitment is founded
    on a partnership with Indigenous people and follows a number of key themes,
    including taking a whole-of-government approach by involving all relevant
    portfolio Ministers and the States and Territories, working within the
    reconciliation framework set down by the Council of Australian Governments

    The Government observed
    that the Report provided a valuable basis for development of evidence-based
    policy in Indigenous affairs. It contains a number of important undertakings
    and commitments, which are made in the context of 'principles for equitable
    provision of services to Indigenous people'. These principles build on
    the understandings developed through the work of the CGC and others in
    identifying the basic requirements and parameters for effective and equitable
    approaches to addressing Indigenous disadvantage. As such, the Principles
    set an agenda that provides an accountability framework for Government.
    The issue, as has been the case in the past, will be whether the rhetoric
    will be matched by action and by the level of priority accorded to these
    matters. The Principles are set out below:

    for equitable provision of services to Indigenous people

    1. The design
    and delivery of services to meet Indigenous needs should be flexible
    and undertaken on the basis of partnerships and shared responsibilities
    with Indigenous people in a culturally and locationally appropriate

    2. The development
    of a long term perspective in the funding, design and implementation
    of programs and services to provide a secure context for setting

    3. Access to
    services will be provided on the basis of need and equity to all
    Australians, including Indigenous Australians, with a clear focus
    on achieving measurable outcomes.

    4. Mainstream
    programs and services have the same responsibility to assist Indigenous
    Australians as other Australians.

    5. The resources
    needed to address the specific disadvantages faced by Indigenous
    clients, whether delivered through the mainstream or Indigenous-specific
    services, can be greater than for other clients, especially in rural
    and remote locations.

    6. Where mainstream
    services are unable to effectively meet the needs of Indigenous
    people (whether due to geographic limits to availability or other
    barriers to access) additional Indigenous-specific services are

    7. Overall
    capacity to achieve outcomes is an important factor when considering
    whether Indigenous-specific programs and services should be established
    to meet identified need or whether to enhance mainstream programs.

    8. Coordination
    of service delivery within and between governments.

    9. Improving
    community capacity is a key factor in achieving sustainable outcomes
    for Indigenous communities.

    10. Data collection
    systems require continuous improvement to ensure performance reporting
    on key Indigenous outcomes is of a high standard and enables resource
    allocation to be better aligned with identified need, including
    by geography.[42]

    A concern about the
    Government Response to the CGC is that it is confined to issues that fall
    within the 'practical reconciliation' agenda. The Government response
    states at the outset that 'the CGC report includes findings and makes
    observations that go beyond the terms of reference for the inquiry. [The
    Government's] response… is limited to those matters that are within
    the terms of reference'.[43]

    The terms of reference
    for the Inquiry were limited to 'determining relative need on the basis
    of geography and constructing distributional funding models'.[44]
    The Commission had noted that:

    The issue of absolute
    needs was raised in all our consultations, no matter who they involved.
    The general theme was that given the high absolute needs, redistribution
    of existing levels of funding on the basis of relative Indigenous needs
    was of limited relevance.[45]

    However, a focus
    on relative need:

    … limits the
    Commission's ability to report on an inequality perspective and hampers
    the usefulness of the inquiry's outcomes for developing and improving
    national benchmarks. It also has the potential to skew the findings
    of the report in favour of addressing needs in rural and remote regions,
    despite the fact that the majority of Indigenous Australians reside
    in urban areas.[46]

    The report had proposed
    a wide range of processes for developing Indigenous community capacity
    and creating a role for Indigenous communities in controlling service
    delivery processes. These conclusions and associated recommend-ations
    by the CGC are not responded to by the Government.

    The continued narrowing
    of the Government's focus on Indigenous funding to consideration solely
    of relative need means that some important issues highlighted by the CGC
    Report are largely disregarded.

    The CGC Report found
    that there were both practical and conceptual difficulties with the notion
    of applying a formula-based approach to allocation of Indigenous funding
    using indexes of relative need. Significant factors here include the lack
    of comprehensive, comparable and up-to-date data necessary in order to
    construct suitable regional indexes of relative needs. The notion that
    resources can be redistributed on the basis of relative need presupposes
    that there is 'a reasonably proportional relationship between the relative
    needs of the regions and their relative requirements for funds… [when]
    the requirement for funds are complex and are unlikely to be proportional'.[47]

    The Report notes
    that: 'A question arises as to whether a needs based allocation of resources
    should be aimed at assisting the region where, on average, people are
    more disadvantaged; or the region with most disadvantage, even if the
    individuals in that region are relatively better off'.[48]

    It highlights the
    complex interplay of the following issues:

    (i) Needs are met
    by mainstream and Indigenous-specific programs are funded by the Commonwealth,
    the States, local governments and non-government organisations. Modelling
    allocations of Commonwealth funds, therefore, requires assumptions about
    the co-ordination, level and distribution of the funds from the other

    (ii) Local cost,
    efficiency and effectiveness factors influence the types of services
    and the service delivery processes that best meet needs in each region.

    (iii) Needs in
    each function are affected by activities, or the lack of them, in other

    (iv) The links
    between the funds made available to meet needs and the resulting changes
    in outcomes are not measurable.[49]

    The Commission found
    that Indigenous Australians did not access mainstream services at the
    same rate as the non-Indigenous population. The lack of coordination of
    the mix of Commonwealth and State mainstream and Indigenous-specific programs
    creates further problems for the development of an equitable formula based
    on relative need. This is exacerbated by economic, demographic and geographic
    differences between regions.

    In noting the inevitable
    use of value judgments in decision-making about funding priorities, the
    CGC Report observes that the Indigenous perspective may differ from that
    of non-Indigenous people: 'For example, an Indigenous perspective of health
    status is broader than physical health status and includes emotional,
    social, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. In addition, Indigenous people
    in metropolitan areas may have different views from those in remote areas'.

    The historically-entrenched
    poverty and socio-economic marginalisation faced by Indigenous peoples
    also has significant ramifications for their relationship to government
    programs and services in contrast to other societal groups: their reliance
    on government service provision will necessarily be greater until they
    reach a higher degree of economic and financial self-sufficiency.

    All of these factors
    point to the need to extend the scope of the Inquiry beyond the focus
    on relative needs in the original terms of reference. Thus the CGC Report
    observes that the extent to which redistribution is beneficial is questionable:

    Large redistributions
    risk losing the benefit of investments made over a number of years,
    including those in developing organisational capacity and people. That
    is, real costs of such redistribution may be high. In these cases it
    might be more appropriate to maintain the existing distribution of current
    resources and apply new distribution approaches to new and expanded
    funds if and when they are made available.[51]

    The Government Response
    to the CGC does however acknowledge the difficulty in constructing regional
    indexes of relative needs because of the absence of adequate data. It

    … the CGC's
    approach of defining need in terms of outcomes and notes that it is
    difficult to develop purely mathematical measures of need, primarily
    because of the absence of adequate and reliable data. The Government
    is committed to improving data quality and availability in order to
    improve the policy base and services.[52]

    With the exception
    of some programs in the housing and infrastructure area, many Commonwealth
    and state government programs do not allocate funds on a needs basis.
    Allocation mechanisms include direct response to demand, history, submissions
    and formulae that may reflect population, needs, costs of service delivery
    or capacity to benefit. [53]

    In committing to
    a focus on outcomes, the Government Response to the CGC Report agrees
    that 'in targeting resources to achieve identified outcomes, judgements
    need to be made about which aspects of those outcomes are more important
    and more relevant to Indigenous people'. [54] However,
    a clear basis needs to be established for ensuring effective participation
    by Indigenous peoples:

    A final critical
    dimension that also affects the resource allocation decision is the
    question of the role and responsibility of the Indigenous community
    as a partner in this process. The absence of a simple relationship between
    need and resource allocation means that the Government and its agencies
    must make judgements when they appropriate resources for Indigenous-specific
    programs and when they distribute those resources on a regional basis.

    The Government's
    response notes the need to use evidence-based decision-making, for decisions
    not to 'be unduly influenced by historical practice' and for decision-making
    to be 'not just in terms of sectoral specific geographic allocative issues,
    but also in terms of funding allocation across sectors'. [56]
    Despite the difficulties surrounding the relationship between need and
    resource allocation it is important that the Government not repeat the
    mistakes of past policy makers and that in seeking to make mainstream
    services genuinely more responsive to Indigenous peoples, it builds a
    partnership that is grounded in standards of equity, effective participation
    and self-determination.

    The Government Response
    states that where mainstream services are available, Indigenous Australians
    'should enjoy the same needs-based level of access to mainstream services
    as other Australians. This is a basic citizenship right'. [57]
    Beyond this principle the response looks to maximising outcomes from the
    Indigenous-specific expenditure available.

    Commenting on the
    CGC Report's observation that it is simplistic to expect that mainstream
    services be the primary providers for Indigenous peoples in urban areas
    and Indigenous-specific programs for remote areas, the Government Response
    suggests that:

    the key consideration
    is the extent to which services are routinely available to the general
    population. Where those services are generally available in a remote
    area, access issues should be addressed by adjustments to mainstream
    services... Need should be addressed through an appropriate mix of mainstream
    and Indigenous-specific services determined by careful consideration
    of the causes of disadvantage and barriers to access to services. [58]

    This observation
    fails to engage with the CGC Report's findings about the limitations that
    a focus on relative need sets on equitable redistribution of funds in
    overcoming Indigenous disadvantage, especially in regard to the needs
    of the non-Indigenous population.

    ATSIC Chairman Geoff
    Clark comments that:

    ATSIC has consistently
    advocated for increased funding to Indigenous programs given the extent
    of the need. Nevertheless, the CGC was pointedly asked not to examine
    absolute Indigenous need, but to compare the needs of different groups
    of Indigenous people. Tony Fitzgerald was tasked with making recommendations
    for change on Cape York based on 'the smarter use of existing State
    resources'. However, both these examinations ultimately had no choice
    but to acknowledge an absolute inadequacy of resources. [59]

    From a human rights
    perspective, the Government Response exemplifies the problem with a focus
    on basic citizenship rights. In determining outcomes that are sensitive
    over the long-term to meeting the specific needs of Indigenous peoples
    and to addressing underlying disadvantage and discrimination, it is insufficient
    to set accessibility of services to the general population as the benchmark.

    A framework for benchmarking
    progress in overcoming Indigenous disadvantage could more profitably be
    modelled on that proposed in the Social Justice Report 2000, [60]
    which uses an inequality perspective to measure the disparity between
    different social groups and whether these disparities have increased or
    decreased over time. This would of necessity involve not only assessment
    of any inefficiencies in Indigenous-specific expenditure, but re-evaluation
    of the parameters set for Indigenous-specific funding.

    The principles for
    equitable provision of services to Indigenous peoples put forward by the
    Government Response to the CGC could also be aligned more strongly with
    a human rights framework that sets benchmarks for progressive realisation
    of rights in addressing poverty and disadvantage. Such a framework could,
    for example, assist in clarifying the outcomes to be achieved by a policy
    approach for addressing Indigenous disadvantage and provide benchmarks
    for measuring progress in addressing inequality within a long-term perspective.
    As the principles currently stand it is difficult to see how they can
    ultimately be effective in addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

    For example, while
    the principles support a long-term perspective on Indigenous service delivery
    needs and 'access to services … on the basis of need and equity to
    all Australians, including Indigenous Australians, with a clear focus
    on achieving measurable outcomes', there are difficulties in achieving
    either without an equality perspective that takes into account absolute
    need. [61] Without proper Indigenous participation in
    setting outcomes and benchmarking against the needs experienced by the
    non-Indigenous population, it is unclear how long-term change can be effected.
    Ultimately such an approach will have ramifications not only for service
    delivery but for sustainable capacity-building in Indigenous communities.
    The CGC Report cautions that:

    Indigenous people
    in all regions have high needs relative to the non-Indigenous population.
    An important question is whether new methods of distribution should
    be applied to existing programs and funds. Any change in methods of
    distributing existing resources means that some regions would lose funding
    and others would gain. Large redistributions risk losing the benefits
    of investments made over long periods of time, including those in developing
    organisational capacity and people. The reals costs of redistribution
    may be high. [62]

    6) The
    Government's Response to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's Final
    Report - Reconciliation: Australia's Challenge

    When the Government
    Response to CAR's Final Report was released, the accompanying media release
    suggested that the Government's position on reconciliation is congruent
    with that of CAR's: it was titled 'Reconciliation Council's Report highlights
    practical approach'. [63] However, the Government's
    Response to CAR's Final Report is certainly not representative of the
    content of CAR's recommendations. In fact it responds to only one of the
    Council's six final recommendations, and it outright rejects one of its
    four, integrated national strategies.

    It states the Government's
    position on reconciliation as follows:

    The Government
    believes that the key to continuing progress is a commitment by all
    Australians to achieving reconciliation through addressing disadvantage
    and by improving community attitudes and understanding. All Australians
    have a responsibility in this regard and the Government gladly adopts
    a driving role. The Government will maintain its commitment to the implementation
    of practical and symbolic measures which have a positive effect on the
    everyday lives of Indigenous Australians…

    The Government
    maintains that the things that unite Australians are infinitely greater
    and more enduring than the things that divide. And so it is in relation
    to reconciliation. [64]

    Significantly, Reconciliation
    Australia's Co-Chairs and Senator Aden Ridgeway, a member of the Council
    for Aboriginal Reconciliation, have openly criticised the Government's
    response to the Report's recommendations and found them lacking in substance.

    Senator Ridgeway
    states that: 'If you look at it from the six key recommendations that
    came from the final report, they'd be lucky even to say half of any one
    of those has been achieved'. [65] Reconciliation Australia's
    Reconciliation Report Card 2002 notes that:

    The Government's
    belated response (almost two years after it received them) only adopted
    wholeheartedly one of the Council's six recommendations - number
    1... It is disappointing that the Government rejected others, including
    number 6 which called for a statutory process to recognise Indigenous
    rights and to progress towards an agreement or treaty. Limiting the
    response to 'practical reconciliation' while neglecting or rejecting
    other issues means that the 'unfinished business' of reconciliation
    remains on the table. [66]

    As in the Government's
    response at the time of the CAR Report's tabling, the material released
    by Government this year on reconciliation indicates a tendency to emphasise
    the responsibility of the broader community to progress reconciliation
    in a way that obviates the role of national leadership:

    It is important
    to appreciate that the Council's proposals, especially the Roadmap and
    accompanying strategies, were not solely addressed to the Commonwealth
    Government. They were addressed to all governments and to the community
    as a whole. It is up to each to respond in its own way to the Council's
    proposals. The response of the Commonwealth Government is but one piece,
    albeit an important one, in that mosaic. [67]

    While it is undoubtedly
    true that all levels of government and all members of the community have
    a responsibility toward achieving reconciliation with Australia's Indigenous
    peoples, the Government is not only an important piece in the mosaic:
    it is an integral one. It is after all the role of federal Government
    to drive policy and enact legislation at a national level. A lack of effective
    coordination or participation at a national level can mean that opportunities
    to make a change at state and local levels can be stymied or even lost.

    The following 'practical
    reconciliation' themes are commonly reiterated in the Government's Response
    to the CAR documents:

    • A minimalist
      response to the symbolic issues raised in the reconciliation documents;
    • A perception
      that self-determination is divisive;
    • An emphasis on
      perceived areas of agreement at the expense of continuing debate on
      other areas; and
    • A misrepresentation
      of progress towards meeting the goals of practical reconciliation.

    A minimalist response to symbolic issues

    The recommendations
    concerning 'symbolic' issues, including those often publicly identified
    with a rights agenda such as the enactment of legislation for a treaty
    process or constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australian's rights,
    receive scant treatment in the Government's Response to CAR's final report.

    While the Government's
    support for processes to acknowledge the special place of Indigenous peoples
    in the life and history of Australia in Commonwealth ceremonies and for
    a referendum to repeal section 25 of the Constitution are welcome initiatives,
    the Government Response to CAR lacks commitment and direction to making
    reconciliation a reality into the future.

    These elements are
    evident in the Government's refusal to pursue legislation that would enshrine
    the principles in the CAR documents (Recommendation 2); to affirm the
    Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation (Recommendation 4); and
    to enact legislation to support a treaty or agreement process to address
    the unresolved issues of reconciliation (Recommendation 6). The Government's
    alternative approach is as follows:

    The Government
    believes that a continuing dialogue on the unfinished business of reconciliation
    allowing for negotiated outcomes on matters such as rights, self-determination
    within the life of the nation and constitutional reform should be achieved
    outside the confines of a legislated process. The Council's draft legislation
    would impose a potentially divisive, protracted (at least 12 years)
    and inconclusive process on the nation… ATSIC's treaty consultation
    process identifies similar objectives…

    Whatever community
    support there may be for a written declaration of goals and values,
    the Council's own public opinion research disclosed community opposition
    to the idea of a treaty as a legally enforceable instrument such as
    is made between sovereign states. A number of Aboriginal leaders have
    also recently voiced concerns about the concept, its relevance and relative
    importance. The Government is deeply concerned that rather than offering
    closure, pursuit of a treaty would be a recipe for ongoing disputation
    and litigation as has happened in North America and elsewhere.

    There are areas
    in this debate which evidence widespread disagreement between the aspirations
    of some Indigenous people and the wider community. The Government is
    committed to a process which fosters an open, honest and ongoing dialogue
    on reconciliation. This process must respect the rights and differing
    views of all interested parties while also fostering ongoing and increased
    support for reconciliation based on the principle of equal and common
    rights for all Australians. [68]

    Anxiety about the
    potential divisiveness of the concept of a treaty is expressed more pointedly
    in the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs's speech
    at the National Treaty Conference. The speech summarises the Government's
    reservations about a treaty as follows:

    a treaty raises
    a range of contentious issues that do not have wide public support and
    could actually threaten to undermine support for reconciliation. The
    focus on a treaty distracts everybody - government, Indigenous people
    and the wider public - from the main game, which is fixing the appalling
    circumstances in which many Aboriginal people live. And, when you strip
    away all the rhetoric, we are ready to share much common ground...

    The Government
    has been fostering a new culture of agreement-making with Indigenous
    people that is giving them real influence and control in the affairs
    of state that matter to them. And like many here, the Government wants
    to take that further. [69]

    Acknowledgement of
    the common ground that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
    is welcome. But without a set time-frame for resolution of unfinished
    business, including principles and protocols for negotiation, it is questionable
    as to whether the Government's proposal of a continuing free-floating
    policy debate or its promotion of a 'culture of agreement making' are
    likely to reach a satisfactory and non-divisive closure or merely perpetuate
    dissension, given the lack of clearly discernible goals and objectives.

    The Minister for
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs' National Treaty Conference
    speech challenges Indigenous requests for a treaty by arguing that it
    does not enjoy widespread community support:

    Now I know that
    some opinion polls … suggest that some segments of the population
    are attracted to the idea of a treaty. But I would remind people of
    what the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation found when it probed
    community attitudes, that apparent community support collapses quickly
    as soon as the concept of legal enforceability is introduced. [70]

    However public opinion
    is not the sole determining factor in the liberal democratic process:
    the development of principles both within the Australian common law and
    international human rights law pertinent to Indigenous Australians should
    receive acknowledgement and protection within Australian law. Nor should
    these developments be portrayed as occurring outside the process of reconciliation
    and the code of ethics being formed to underlie the relationship between
    Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

    The negotiation and
    agreement process put forward by the Reconciliation Bill includes such
    safeguards as protocols for negotiation and tri-annual reporting, and
    the CAR documents support an ongoing process of education on reconciliation
    issues such as the distinct rights of Indigenous peoples and constitutional
    protection of rights.

    The Reconciliation
    Bill's negotiation and agreement process also provides an opportunity
    for the use of human rights norms as a process for rebuilding this relationship
    which is so fundamental to the nation. This process which the Bill sets
    out assumes that reconciliation is an ongoing process in which unresolved
    issues are squarely raised and processes put in place for their resolution
    based on the informed consent of both sides. The application of these
    principles must be negotiated and agreed upon by both parties before a
    new relationship can emerge.

    In this way the agreement
    process is consistent with the human rights principle of self-determination
    that recognises Indigenous peoples as a separate and distinct people,
    capable of negotiating with nations on an equal footing. It confers on
    Indigenous peoples a genuine and autonomous basis for the 'real influence
    and control in the affairs of state': a dimension which a culture of agreement-making
    that does not specify the basic status and rights of Indigenous peoples,
    as well as the principles and protocols for agreement-making is less likely
    to deliver.

    The Government's
    response to the Council's documents further observes that Australian governments
    have 'generally observed the principle of only enacting legislation once
    they are convinced that a legislative solution is superior to other policy
    instruments for achieving the stated objective'. [71]
    In doing so it begs the question of whether it is appropriate for matters
    concerning the human rights of Indigenous Australians to be resolved through
    public fora such as policy debate and referenda rather than legislative

    A Bill of Rights
    or express Constitutional provisions are not supported because the 'Government
    strongly believes that the best guarantee of fundamental human rights
    in this country is to have a vigorous and open political system, an incorruptible
    judicial system, and a free press'. [72] The Response
    also states that they are committed to the protection of 'the rights of
    all its citizens, and in particular its Indigenous peoples, by recognising
    international standards for the protection of universal human rights and
    fundamental freedoms' through ratification of the ICERD, the ICESCR and
    the ICCPR and acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    It also claims that
    the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) provides sufficient protection
    for race rights without need for further reinforcement through constitutional
    change or the creation of a Bill of Rights.

    But while the RDA
    embodies the principles for the elimination of race discrimination set
    out in the ICERD, it has been clear during recent years that it does not
    provide adequate protection within the Australian legal system for the
    exercise of Indigenous rights. For example since 1999 three separate international
    human rights committees have expressed concerns to the Australian Government
    about breaches of Indigenous peoples' human rights. [74]
    Nothing has changed. For example, native title is still governed by the
    exact same legal structure as that which, in 1998, caused the Committee
    for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the CERD Committee) to put
    Australia under its Urgent Action procedure and request an explanation
    for this extreme imposition of discriminatory policy.

    The Government Response
    to CAR highlights the potential for negotiated outcomes and 'agreement-making'
    at a local level outside the legislative process and the Minister's National
    Treaty Conference speech emphasises an 'alternative step-by-step process
    [that] is already beginning to happen'. [75] While the
    use of agreement-making has strong Indigenous support, it is important
    to realise that these initiatives do not of themselves guarantee protection
    of Indigenous peoples' rights and interests. In the case of native title,
    the difficulty is in convincing developers, mining and resource companies,
    pastoralists, and local and state governments to enter into agreements
    which deliver real outcomes to Indigenous peoples when the legislation
    does not necessarily require this of them. [76]

    There are periods
    in Australian history prior to the 1967 referendum when basic citizenship
    rights for Indigenous peoples may not have received widespread community
    support but this does mean that some of the dehumanising treatment experienced
    by Indigenous peoples or the failure of past governments to protect their
    basic rights was in any way supportable. The recognition of Indigenous
    inherent rights deserves national leadership within the reconciliation
    process including legal protection where appropriate.

    The perceived divisiveness of self-determination

    Related to the Government's
    continuing refusal to countenance recognition and protection of Indigenous
    peoples' inherent rights is its commitment to perpetuating the misconception
    that Indigenous self-determination will necessarily be divisive as it
    'carries the implication of a separate Indigenous state or states'. [77]
    As explained in chapter 2, self-determination does not constitute such
    a threat to national unity as it does not amount to a right of secession.

    While the Government
    Response to CAR prefers to promote self-management and self-empowerment
    for Indigenous peoples, it quickly becomes clear that without the fundamental
    recognition of Indigenous self-determination, even these will be circumscribed
    within the Government's own terms:

    It is the responsibility
    of government to ensure that all Australians have equality of opportunity
    and access to services. The Government is concerned that self-determination
    implies that a government must in some way relinquish responsibility
    for and control over those aspects of Indigenous well being over which
    it rightly has jurisdiction in common with its responsibilities to all
    Australian citizens. The Commonwealth Government remains accountable
    for outcomes in Indigenous affairs when making fiscal commitments. [78]

    The limits of this
    approach are discussed in detail in chapter 2 of this Report.

    Examples from other
    international contexts indicate that Indigenous self-determination and
    self-government can be grounded in a partnership of mutual fiscal responsibility
    between government and Aboriginal peoples. 'Supporting Strong Communities,
    People and Economies', the fourth strategy of Gathering strength -
    Canada's aboriginal action plan
    , covers issues of effective citizenship
    participation similar to those referred to in CAR's national strategies
    on overcoming disadvantage and achieving economic independence. [79]
    But it goes further than the CAR strategies, giving extensive treatment
    to the issues of improving both fiscal relations at the federal level
    and inter-governmental relations with Indigenous people.

    The Harvard Project
    on American Indian Economic Development found that tribal-control of resource
    management and design of economic development strategies led to the exercise
    of effective sovereignty on American Indian reservations: 'When tribes
    make their own decisions about what approaches to take and what resources
    to develop, they consistently out-perform non-tribal decision-makers'.[80]

    There is also evidence
    that the capacity to be self-determining can have positive implications
    for Indigenous peoples' health, well-being and sense of identity. Commenting
    on the gaps between Maori and Indigenous Australians' health status, and
    whether the treaty obligations that underpin Maori-State relations have
    contributed to improvements in Maori health over the past sixty years,
    Kate Ross and John Taylor observe that:

    The other side
    of the institutional arrangements that flow from treaties is the interpretation
    by individual Indigenous people of their own status. In the presence
    of legal rights and obligations, an effective bargaining base and explicit
    recognition by the non-Indigenous majority, it is arguable that psychosocial
    stress could be mitigated. A positive external ascription may have as
    its product a positive internal ascription, and a lessening of a sense
    of powerlessness or hopelessness. [81]

    An emphasis on perceived areas of agreement

    While the Government's
    response to CAR is quick to suggest that there is significant conflict
    between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, it does not annotate
    or provide any comprehensive analysis of the polls it claims substantiate
    these areas of disagreement. By contrast, a poll conducted by Issues Deliberation
    Australia (IDA) - 'Australia Deliberates on Reconciliation' - on 16-18
    February 2001 found significant changes in perceptions and increases in
    knowledge among non-Indigenous Australian participants as a result of
    this debate. IDA record that:

    Following deliberation,
    younger Australians, more educated Australians, and Australians living
    in capital cities, were more observant of Indigenous disadvantage. This
    intensified perception of the degree of Indigenous disadvantage correlated
    highly with the tendency to agree to an official government apology,
    a treaty, native title, an integrated legal system and payment to the
    'stolen generation'. Prior to deliberations, Coalition and ALP supporters
    were starkly different. Comprehensive weighing of opposing arguments
    tended to negate that political divide, with post-deliberation opinions
    converging on key aspects of reconciliation.

    Regardless of these
    'gaps', the informed voice of the general population of Australians
    was a far less divided and ambivalent voice than the pre-deliberation
    uninformed voice. In general, informed Representative Australians revised
    their perceptions of how important the issue of reconciliation is to
    the nation, and how disadvantaged Indigenous Australians are in comparison
    to their non-Indigenous counterparts…

    These changes in
    perceptions and increases in knowledge correlated highly with levels
    of support for a range of national initiatives:

    • formal acknowledgement
      that Australia was occupied without consent of Indigenous Australians:
    • formal acknowledgement
      that Indigenous Australians were the original owners of the land and
      waters: around 81%
    • an apology
      to the 'stolen generation': 68%. [82]

    These results are
    indicative of the progress towards agreement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
    Australians on the unfinished business of reconciliation that a structured
    framework for both education and debate on the relationship between Indigenous
    and non-Indigenous Australians could facilitate. IDA comment further that:

    All previous Deliberative
    Polls provide compelling evidence that people who have had the opportunity
    to be informed, to question competing experts and advocates and to discuss
    the issues with their peers, think fundamentally differently and draw
    different conclusions to those who have not had such opportunities.
    The conclusions of the 'representative citizens' following deliberation
    have recommending force for Governments, Government Agencies
    and other organisations, as they develop their strategies in this area.

    Such a process for
    debate and education could be facilitated and resourced through the mechanisms
    proposed by the Reconciliation Bill for resolving unfinished business,
    such as the National Reconciliation Conventions. While one of Reconciliation
    Australia's primary functions is to provide wider community education,
    the limited budget on which it operates is inadequate to support a comprehensive
    educative process of this nature. In the absence of support for the processes
    presented by the Reconciliation Bill and the failure to put forward an
    alternative, resourced framework for this purpose, it is hard to see that
    the Government is committed to sustaining a continuing dialogue on reconciliation.

    The Government's
    emphasis on finding ground also supports a tendency to prioritise its
    own agendas at the expense of those of Indigenous people. For example,
    while acknowledging the 'robustness of the debate' on treaty promoted
    by Indigenous peoples in his speech at the National Treaty Conference
    the Minister claims that the 'focus on a treaty distracts everybody …
    from the main game, which is fixing the appalling circumstances in which
    many Aboriginal people live'. [84]

    While overcoming
    Indigenous disadvantage is the only major point of agreement between the
    Government and Indigenous leaders in regard to reconciliation, it does
    not follow that there is common assent to a practical reconciliation approach.
    Once again this is a rhetorical sleight-of-hand on the Government's behalf
    which belies their capacity to consult adequately or to engage equitably
    with Indigenous peoples in setting the parameters for dialogue on reconciliation.
    This is a continuation of a pattern in the Government's 'take it or leave
    it approach' to reconciliation which implies that Indigenous peoples are
    dependent on the benevolence of government rather than the establishment
    of an equal partnership in developing the terms of debate in regard to
    reconciliation and Indigenous policy.

    Misrepresenting progress towards practical reconciliation

    The Government's
    response to the CAR documents also list significant achievements of practical
    reconciliation across a range of socio-economic indicators.[85]
    This list of 'progress' does not admit to the continuing gravity of Indigenous
    disadvantage as indicated by recent Census data and a range of other reports.
    Close examination of the gains from reconciliation for Indigenous people
    listed in Government's response to CAR against these latest findings suggest
    that the Government is not providing a very clear delineation of outcomes
    for Indigenous peoples but a somewhat limited and even misleading view.

    Statistics released
    by ABS from the Indigenous component of the 2001 National Health Survey
    indicate poor outcomes for the Indigenous population in comparison to
    the mainstream population for life expectancy, reported level of health,
    and health risk factors.[86] Even more damningly, the
    survey found that while Indigenous people are hospitalised at twice the
    rate of the general population, real spending on Indigenous health was
    half that of the non-Indigenous community.[87] ATSIC
    Chairman Geoff Clark observes: 'Considering the high rate of illness experienced
    by Indigenous communities, we would expect expenditure on health services
    for our people to be about three times the average'. [88]

    Some of the gains
    in health that the Government's response to CAR notes pale in contrast
    to the big picture of Indigenous health issues. While it observes that
    Indigenous infant death rates have fallen over the past decade, Indigenous
    babies are still twice as likely to die at birth as those born to non-Indigenous
    mothers.[89] The response reports some declines in rates
    for respiratory illness and deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases
    but the rates remain at around 4 times the non-Indigenous average. Indigenous
    people still continue to experience higher rates of asthma, diabetes and
    hypertension than other Australians, as well as higher rates of hospitalisation
    and mortality for mental health and substance abuse related disorders.

    Likewise while there
    have been some improvements in regard to education, the recent National
    Report to Parliament on Indigenous Education and Training 2001
    significant gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. For
    example, although retention rates to year 12 have increased, the rate
    is still half the rate for non-Indigenous students. The numeracy and literacy
    rates of year 3 students have improved but there is still a substantial
    gap between these rates and those of non-Indigenous students. The numbers
    of Indigenous students undertaking tertiary and post-secondary vocational
    education has increased but the rates at which Indigenous students progress
    through and complete their courses are not as high as those for non-Indigenous
    university students.[91]

    As Senator Ridgeway
    observed, this first national report on education has come 35 years after
    the Commonwealth took responsibility for this area following the 1967
    referendum. He comments as follows on the value of this report for monitoring
    disadvantage in regard to education:

    We cannot afford
    to sacrifice another generation of Indigenous people to the unemployment
    queues or the pathway to our detention centres and gaols… Given
    that the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
    has excused the Government's lack of progress in Indigenous Affairs
    by saying there is no baseline data to measure progress - at least on
    the education front this kind of excuse cannot be wheeled out in future.

    The Australian Vice
    Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) said that the report highlighted the need
    for a review into the adequacy of current income support arrangements
    for Indigenous students and supported the package of measures for consideration
    put forward by the AVCC. The AVCC President, Professor Deryck Schreuder,
    stated that:

    The fact is, Indigenous
    Australians' access to, and completion of, higher education is too low
    and further assistance is needed to ensure universities are able to
    increase numbers of both students and staff…Whilst there are some
    encouraging signs with an increase in the number and proportion of Indigenous
    students enrolled in Bachelor's degree courses in higher education,
    from 3863 in 1997 (or 52 per cent) to 4630, (or 63 per cent) in 2001,
    clearly more must be done to achieve greater participation and completion
    of higher education. [93]

    The Government Response
    (CAR) also reports improvements for Indigenous peoples since 1992 in the
    area of housing and infrastructure. It cites increases in the percentage
    of discrete Indigenous communities with access to electricity and higher
    level sewerage systems, and the proportion of dwellings in need of major
    repair, as well as a decline (of 2 per cent) in the proportion of residents
    living in temporary dwellings since 1996.

    However, the overall
    picture for Indigenous access to housing and infrastructure is still one
    of disadvantage, with the majority of Indigenous peoples generally living
    in overcrowded and poor quality rental accommodation. The ABS Community
    Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) funded by ATSIC in 2001
    found that 19 per cent of Indigenous dwellings in urban and regional areas
    have a high need for repairs in contrast to 7 per cent for other households.
    There are also 3.4 people in Indigenous households compared to 2.6 in
    other households; and in 1996 7 per cent of Indigenous households consisted
    of 10 or more people in contrast to 0.1 per cent of Indigenous households.

    The statistics on
    law and justice presented in the Government's response to CAR are particularly
    disingenuous. It states that:

    • Despite a rise
      in the total prison population since 1994, the rate of Indigenous incarceration
      has remained relatively stable in recent years

    • On average, the
      rate of Indigenous deaths in custody has fallen since the Royal Commission,
      and Indigenous people are less likely to die in custody than non-Indigenous
      prisoners. [95]

    A different and more
    honest way of presenting the facts on this issue would be to acknowledge
    that since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody incarceration
    rates and over-representation rates have risen significantly, and in recent
    years have not declined. It would also be to acknowledge that Indigenous
    people still constitute approximately 18% of all deaths in custody despite
    constituting 2% of the population. These figures cannot be construed as
    a positive outcome.

    Again, the absence
    of a long term commitment to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage, with
    short, medium and long term targets, masks the distinct lack of progress
    in addressing Indigenous disadvantage within a practical reconciliation
    approach. There is a continual need for Indigenous organisations to unravel
    the statements of the Government so that it can be held accountable for
    the real lack of achievement.


    The past twelve months
    have seen the Government reinforce its practical reconciliation approach
    to Indigenous issues. By continually reinforcing that its commitment is
    to addressing key issues of Indigenous disadvantage and nothing else,
    the Government has selectively engaged in debates about Indigenous policy
    formulation. It has developed a tunnel vision that renders it incapable
    of seeing anything that falls outside the boundaries that it has unilaterally,
    and artificially, established for relations with Indigenous peoples.

    There are two features
    to this approach that are of particular concern. First, it has seen Indigenous
    peoples marginalised from having any role in setting the priorities or
    agenda for Indigenous affairs. This has been done, deceitfully, under
    the rubric of 'partnership and agreement-making'. Second, the efforts
    of the Government over the past twelve months have been directed towards
    the goal of cementing this reductive approach into place, including at
    the inter-governmental level. The consequence is that the limited processes
    for accountability are not directed to those issues which the Government
    does not agree with.

    A selection of speeches from the launches are available online at:

    Howard, J, 'Address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia:
    Strategic Leadership for Australia: Policy Directions in a Complex World',
    Sydney, 20 November 2002, p1. Italics added. Available online at:

    ibid, p5.

    Evans, C, 'Indigenous Australians hospitalised at twice the average but
    funded at half the rate', media release, 11 December 2002.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics, 'Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander
    Health Report', media release, 20 November 2002; 'Australians live longer:
    mortality indicators improve', media release, 10 December 2002.

    Clark, G, 'Chairman's report', ATSIC Annual Report 2001-2002, Canberra,
    ATSIC, p35.

    Ruddock, P, 'Changing Direction', ATSIC National Policy Conference - Setting
    the Agenda, Canberra, 26 March 2002.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social
    Justice Report 2002
    , HREOC, Sydney, 2002, pp46-47.

    Ruddock, op cit, p7.

    ibid, p5.


    ibid, p2.

    Howard, op cit.

    For discussion of this policy approach, see Social Justice Report 2001,

    Ruddock, op cit, pp7-8.

    ibid, p7.

    Social Justice Report 2001, op cit, pp52-53.

    Cf. ibid, pp61-64; Martin, D, 'Community development in the context of
    welfare dependence', in Morphy, F and Sanders, W, (eds), The Indigenous
    welfare economy and the CDEP Scheme
    , CAEPR Research Monograph No.20,
    CAEPR, Canberra, 2000, pp31-38.

    Ruddock, op cit, p3.

    ibid, p6.


    ibid, p4.

    Martin, D, op cit, p36.

    Ruddock, P, 'Agreement making and sharing common ground', National Treaty
    Conference, Canberra, 19 August 2002, p1. Available online at:

    Social Justice Report 2001, pp208-10; Clark, op cit, p29.

    Lawrence, C, House of Representatives, Hansard, 17 June 2002, p3092-3.

    Clark, op cit, p41.

    Reconciliation Australia, Words, symbols and actions: Reconciliation
    Report Card 2002 - A Report from Reconciliation Australia to the Australian
    , Canberra, Reconciliation Australia, 2002, p12.

    See Jonas, Dr W, 'Government approach to reconciliation lacks direction
    and accountability' states Social Justice Commissioner', media release,
    27 September 2002,
    Note also Ridgeway, A: 'The Government says it is spending more than $2
    billion on Indigenous programs this financial year, but Senator Ridgeway
    has rejected the Government's claim it has not the data to set measurable
    benchmarks for the improvement of Indigenous disadvantage.' ABC news release,
    'Govt's response to reconciliation report comes under fire',,
    27 Sept 02.

    Clark, op cit, p31.

    Senate Estimates Committee, Legal and Constitutional, Federal Parliament,
    Canberra, 20 November 2002, p24.

    For discussion, see Social Justice Report 2000, pp104-7.

    ATSIC, op cit, p31.

    For discussion see Social Justice Report 2000, pp104-23.

    Social Justice Report 2001, pp79-91.

    ibid, p84.

    See discussion in relation to CPAs in Smith, D, 'Community Participation
    Agreements: A model for welfare reform from community-based research',
    CAEPR discussion paper No. 223/2001, CAEPR, Canberra, 2001, p38.

    ibid, p67. Social Justice Report 2001, pp89-90.

    See ATSIC, Recognition, rights and reform: Report to Government on
    native title social justice measures
    , Canberra, ATSIC, 1995, pp9-10;
    Native Title Report 2001, Chapter 3.

    Federal government, Government response to the Commonwealth Grants
    Commission Report on Indigenous funding
    , Canberra, DIMIA, June 2002,
    p3. (Herein 'Government Response (GCG)'). Available online at:

    The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs,
    Phillip Ruddock, Government to Focus on Indigenous Need, Media
    Release and associated documents, 27 June 2002. See in particular the
    Government's detailed Government Response (CGC).

    Government Response (CGC), pp21-22.

    ibid, p5.

    ibid, p5.

    Commonwealth Grants Commission, Report on Indigenous Funding 2001,
    Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia, 2001, pxii.

    Social Justice Report 2000, pp101-102.

    Government Response (CGC), p33.

    ibid, p29.

    ibid, p41.

    ibid, p13.

    ibid, p51.

    ibid, p7.

    ibid, p29.

    ibid, p8.

    ibid, p10.

    ibid, p10-11.

    ibid, p14.


    ATSIC, op cit, p31.

    Social Justice Report 2000, Chapter 4.

    Government Response (CGC), p21.

    Commonwealth Grants Commission, op cit, pxvii.

    ABC news release, op cit.

    Federal government, Commonwealth Government Response (CAR) to the Final
    Report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
    , Commonwealth
    of Australia, Canberra, 2002,,
    p3. (Herein 'Government Response (GCG)').

    ABC news release, op cit.

    Reconciliation Australia, op cit, pp5-6.

    Government Response (CAR), p3.

    ibid, pp18-19.

    Ruddock, 'Agreement making and sharing common ground', op cit,


    Commonwealth Government, op cit, p19.

    ibid, p21.

    ibid, p18.

    In 2000 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the
    CERD Committee) the Human Rights Committee, and the Committee on Economic
    Social and Cultural Rights criticised Australia's native title legislation
    based on Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination
    of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Covenant on Civil and
    Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
    Rights (ICESCR) respectively. For a full analysis of these decisions see

    Government Response (CAR), p3.

    See Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    Native Title Report 2001, HREOC, Sydney, 2002, Chapter 3; proposes
    framework agreements that embody human rights principles as a guide to
    agreement-making on native title land.

    Government Response (CAR), p19.


    Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gathering Strength
    - Canada's aboriginal action plan
    , Ottawa, 1997.

    80 Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Overview of
    the Harvard Project,,
    13 December 2002.

    Ross, K and Taylor, J, 'Improving life expectancy and health status: A
    comparison of Indigenous Australians and New Zealand Maori', Joint Special
    Issue, Journal of Population Research and NZ Population Review,
    September 2002, p234.

    Issues Deliberation Australia, 'Australia deliberates: Reconciliation
    - where from here?', Executive summary of results, Canberra, 2001. Available
    online at:

    83 Project description, ibid.

    Ruddock, 'Agreement making and sharing common ground', op cit,

    Government Response (CAR), pp5-7.

    ABS, op cit.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey: Aboriginal
    and Torres Strait Islander Results
    , Australia, 2001, 4715.0. Available
    online at: ; Australian
    Instistute of Health and Welfare, Expenditures on Health Services for
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People 1998-99
    , cat. No. IHW7,
    Canberra, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2001.

    Clark, op cit, p38.

    ABS, 'Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Health Report', op cit; Government
    Response (CAR)
    , p6.

    Clark, op cit.

    Nelson, Dr B, 'Statement by the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson, MP - Minister
    for Education, Science and Training: The national report to parliament
    on Indigenous Education and Training 2001', House of Representatives,
    Hansard, 14 November 2002, p8948.

    Ridgeway, A, 'First National Indigenous Education Report - 35 Years Coming',
    media release, 12 November 2002.

    AVCC, 'More must be done to help Indigenous students', media release,
    15 November 2002.

    Clark, op cit, p40.

    Government Response (CGC), p7.

    March 2003.