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A new inquiry into Indigenous policy must address the root causes of failure

Elizabeth Strakosch and University of Queensland colleagues write in The Conversation (12.9.19) about a new Productivity Commission inquiry into the effectiveness of Indigenous policy making at the federal level. The authors suggest that, when it comes to improving Indigenous policies and programs, Indigenous communities should be the ones evaluating government – rather than the other way around.

‘The evidence is increasingly clear – Indigenous policies at the federal level are getting worse. They are becoming less successful and more dysfunctional.

‘Since the abolition of the Aboriginal self-management agency in 2005, the responsibility for developing policy and managing services for Indigenous peoples has moved to mainstream government agencies.

‘And this has proven to be a mistake – Indigenous policymaking is now in “a perpetual state of crisis”, according to Ian Anderson, respected Indigenous academic and government official.

‘The main problem with recent government policies, such as the Northern Territory intervention, welfare quarantining and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, is they all draw on the same problematic way of thinking – that Indigenous communities are dysfunctional and need to be “normalised”.

‘Concerns that Indigenous programs are failing to help communities have now led to a new Productivity Commission inquiry. But any new strategy will fail unless it addresses the power imbalances and racism that characterises the current approach to Indigenous policymaking as a whole.’

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