“The IAS has already greatly improved the transparency and accountability of Indigenous Affairs funding.”
So says Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, the NT’s Senator who sits with the National Party in the Australian Parliament.
His quote about the Indigenous Advancement Strategy must be an example of the good Senator’s admirable sense of humour: The Australian National Audit Office is declaring the IAS a billion dollar dog’s breakfast.
The Alice Springs News Online has investigated and reported on a string of work-for-the-dole programs in Central Australia, most recently those run by CatholicCare and My Pathways. They are financed by Commonwealth agencies and the buck stopping with Senator Scullion.
The lavishly funded providers are far from “transparent and accountable” with neither they nor Senator Scullion providing answers to detailed questions from us.
“The Audit Office’s finding that the department’s grants administration processes fell far short of the standard required to effectively manage a billion dollars of Federal resource is consistent with the findings my report Mapping the Indigenous Program and Funding Maze, which documented that billions of dollars were being wasted on Indigenous programs due to a lack of evaluation and accountability,” says Sara Hudson, from the Centre for Independent Studies.
“My research found only 8% (88) of 1,082 programs had been evaluated.
“This finding was further corroborated by the release of the Productivity Commission’s report in November last year, which found that of the thousands of Indigenous programs funded by government, only 24 had been rigorously evaluated.”
Questions from the News to CatholicCare and My Pathway were precisely about evaluation. We were fobbed off, with Senator Scullion’s acquiescence.
Senator Scullion is now trying to fix the problem the only way he apparently knows how, namely throwing more taxpayer’s money at it: $40m over four years “to strengthen the evaluation of Indigenous Affairs programmes”.