Social Justice Report 2005
Recommendations and follow up actions
In accordance with the functions set out in section 46C(1) (a) of the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth), this report includes 5
recommendations - 3 in relation to Achieving health equality for Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people s and 2 in relation to the new arrangement in
Indigenous affairs. The report also contains 5 follow up actions that my office will
undertaken over the next twelve months in relation to the new arrangements.
These and the recommendations are reproduced here and appear at the relevant
part of the report.
Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality
within a generation - A human rights based approach
That the governments of Australia commit to achieving equality of health status and life expectation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people within 25 years.
- That the governments of Australia commit to achieving equality of access to primary health care and health infrastructure within 10 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- That benchmarks and targets for achieving equality of health status and life expectation be negotiated, with the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and committed to by all Australian governments. Such benchmarks and targets should be based on the indicators set out in the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Framework and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework. They should be made at the national, state/ territory and regional levels and account for regional variations in health status. Data collection processes should also be improved to enable adequate reporting on a disaggregated basis, in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework.
- That resources available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, through mainstream and Indigenous specific services, be increased to levels that match need in communities and to the level necessary to achieve the benchmarks, targets and goals set out above. Arrangements to pool funding should be made with states and territories matching additional funding contributions from the federal government.
- The goal and aims of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health be incorporated into the operation of Indigenous Coordination Centres and the new arrangements for Indigenous affairs. This includes through reliance on the outcomes of regional planning processes under the Aboriginal Health Forums.
That the Australian Health Minister's Conference agree a National Commitment to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality and that bi-partisan support for this commitment be sought in federal Parliament and in all state and territory parliaments.
This commitment should:
- acknowledge the existing inequality of health status enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- acknowledge that this constitutes a threat to the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their languages and cultures, and does not provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the ability to live safe, healthy lives in full human dignity;
- confirm the commitment of all governments to the National Strategic Framework and the National Aboriginal Health Strategy as providing over-arching guidance for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality;
- commit all governments to a program of action to redress this inequality, which aims to ensure equality of opportunity in the provision of primary health care services and health infrastructure within ten years;
- note that such a commitment requires partnerships and shared responsibility between all levels of government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, non-government organisations and the private sector;
- acknowledge that additional, special measures will be necessary into the medium term to achieve this commitment;
- acknowledge that significant advances have been made, particularly in levels of resourcing, since 1995 to address this situation;
- commit to celebrate and support the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in addressing health inequality;
- accept the holistic definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the importance of Aboriginal community controlled health services in achieving lasting improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status;
- commit to engage the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all aspects of addressing their health needs;
- commit to continue to work to achieve improved access to mainstream services, alongside continued support for community controlled health services in urban as well as rural and remote areas; and
- acknowledge that achieving such equality will contribute to the reconciliation process.
Progress in implementing the new arrangements for the
administration of Indigenous affairs - Ensuring the effective
participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
in decision-making processes
That the federal government, in partnership with state and territory governments, prioritise the negotiation with Indigenous peoples of regional representative arrangements. Representative bodies should be finalised and operational by 30 June 2006 in all Indigenous Coordination Centre regions.
That the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, agree to Guidelines to ensure that Shared Responsibility Agreements comply with human rights standards relating to the process of negotiating SRAs and the content of such agreements.
Follow Up Actions by Social Justice Commissioner
1. The Social Justice Commissioner will consider the adequacy of processes undertaken by all governments to consult and negotiate with Indigenous peoples and communities on policy development, program delivery and monitoring and evaluation processes. This will include:
- identifying best practice examples for engaging with Indigenous peoples on a national, state-wide and regional basis;
- identifying existing protocols or principles for engaging with Indigenous peoples;
- identify existing processes for engaging with Torres Strait Islander communities on the mainland; and
- developing a best practice guide to negotiating with Indigenous communities from a human rights perspective.
2. The Social Justice Commissioner will work in partnership with non-government organisations and Indigenous community organisations to promote understanding of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the making of Shared Responsibility Agreements. This will include:
- disseminating information about relevant human rights standards for engaging with Indigenous communities and to guide the content of SRAs; and
- consulting with Indigenous people, organisations and communities about their experiences in negotiating SRAs.
3. The Social Justice Commissioner will monitor the Shared Responsibility Agreements process. This will include:
- considering the process for negotiation and implementation of SRAs;
- considering whether the obligations contained in agreements are consistent with human rights standards or place restrictions on the accessibility of basic entitlements or essential services; and
- establishing whether the government has fulfilled its commitments in SRAs, including through providing appropriate support to communities to ensure that the proposed benefit in an SRA is realised in the community.
4. The Social Justice Commissioner will examine approaches adopted by the government to improve the accessibility of mainstream services to Indigenous communities and individuals. This will include:
- conducting consultations and case studies with the participation of select urban, regional and remote Indigenous communities, to identify best practice as well as barriers to the accessibility of mainstream services;
- examining the role of solution brokers in Indigenous Coordination Centres and in the negotiation of Shared Responsibility Agreements (for example, by considering the percentage of funding allocated through SRAs from mainstream programs as opposed to Indigenous specific funding or the SRA flexible funding pool); and
- considering the impact of reforms to the CDEP Scheme, including changes to align the program more closely with mainstream employment programs.
5. The Social Justice Commissioner will continue to consider the adequacy of monitoring and evaluation processes for the new arrangements. This will include considering efforts by all governments to integrate the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Framework into policy and review processes, including through the establishment of benchmarks and targets; as well as monitoring progress in the COAG whole of government trials and the outcomes of the formative evaluations of these currently underway.