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Aboriginal plan ‘light on detail’

Tuesday, 9th April, 2013

By Erica Visser

An Aboriginal leader says that a State Government Aboriginal Affairs plan is good in theory, but lacks information about how it would be implemented.

The plan, named OCHRE, focuses on developing local decision making models, creating bridges between Aboriginal students’ schooling and careers, and the establishment of an independent advisory committee.

It was developed in consultation with Indigenous communities, including in Broken Hill, where 200 residents attended a session in February last year.

Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly Chairman Sam Jeffries welcomed the release of the plan but said he would remain sceptical about its outcomes until more detail was revealed.

“I think there’s a couple of interesting things in the announcement, particularly around the local decision-making model and the independent advisory committee with an Auditor General’s role,” Mr Jeffries said.

“But there’s not a lot of detail about how those things will work. For example, the decision-making model will have decisions over service delivery; will these be Aboriginal-specific or mainstream services?

“It’s not clear about what the intent is and that’s the kind of information that people are really wanting to get out there and understand.”

Mr Jeffries said that part of the plan, to start ‘opportunity hubs’ to “provide school students pathways to real jobs by getting local employers involved in career planning early on at school”, was not that different from current programs.

He also said that the independent committee was dependent on the “breadth and width” of the powers given to the Auditor-General.

“If the Minister needs to be rapped over the knuckles, they’ve

got to have the ability to do so,” Mr Jeffries said.

“I’m cynical because the Government often becomes reactive rather than proactive. We can’t design things for electoral cycles, it needs to be for the long- term.

Local State MP John Williams said the Government was committed to working with Aboriginal people in the rollout.

“There was a really strong turnout for the meeting last year, so I’m very pleased to see that the NSW Government has listened and acted,” Mr Williams said.

“The NSW Government is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal people, not just in the design stage, but in the delivery.

“This is why OCHRE outlines a suite of accountability measures including an Independent Aboriginal Council comprising Aboriginal members to monitor and report on progress of the Government’s plan to the NSW Parliament.”

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