In this report, Dr Heidi Norman from the University of Technology Sydney, examines the historical and current policy context relevant to the return of public lands to Aboriginal control or ownership in NSW. The paper provides an overview of the emerging issues, including the urgent need for policy reform and program innovation resulting from the escalation of land recovery over the next five to seven years, the centrality of Aboriginal peoples in development and planning and conservation, the enormous potential for Aboriginal land rights to create cultural, social and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people, and the tensions between the Aboriginal Land Rights and Native Title Acts. The report indicates that new insights are needed to assist Aboriginal groups to manage an expanded Aboriginal estate. This management would need to consider conservation, culture heritage management, industry and development imperatives, as well as any intra-community contests over governance.
Policy development relating to Aboriginal people in NSW has undergone significant and fundamental changes in approach in the last thirty to
forty years. During 2012 and 2013, the NSW Government developed a new Aboriginal affairs policy. The policy, known as OCHRE, was
developed within a framework of co-production between the Government and Aboriginal communities that included over 2,700 Aboriginal people
So as to fully understand the successes and challenges in developing the OCHRE policy, and its subsequent implementation, the McKell
Institute were commissioned in 2017 to conduct a process evaluation. The study points to the importance and complexities of genuine co-design
with Aboriginal people. Findings suggest that success requires attention to timeframes, workforce, leadership, maintaining buy-in over
time, accountability, and working within Aboriginal communities ways of knowing and doing. The report concludes that while other jurisdictions
have attempted co-design “OCHRE stands alone in its scale and ambition”.
The case study is complemented by a literature review. Assessing the approach used in government policy development in Aboriginal affairs in
NSW over the last 30-40 years the review highlights the major initiatives and structure of Aboriginal affairs policy in the state in modern
times, and notes the unique nature of OCHRE in contrast to earlier policy development approaches.
State-wide industry based Agreements (IBAs) are public commitments from peak industry bodies and the NSW Government to forge long term partnerships
that will strengthen economic prosperity and independence in local Aboriginal communities. A review of learnings and achievements from
the operation of IBAs has been completed by The Centium Group Pty Ltd. The review suggests that the program would benefit from the involvement
of Aboriginal communities at all stages, stronger program governance and accountability arrangements, a customised Program Logic Model
for each IBA, and promotion of the learnings from the actions plans.
This research project explored the devolution of decision-making power from the NSW public service to Aboriginal communities, focusing on the
structural and attitudinal changes required within the NSW public service to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal communities. The findings
suggest that devolution could be achieved through strengthening the career paths for Aboriginal public servants, increasing the cultural
competency of public servants tailored to local contexts, including through building stronger relationships with Aboriginal communities,
and encouraging public sector leaders to demonstrate a commitment and visibility in developing cultural competence for themselves and their
staff. The project was undertaken in partnership between Aboriginal Affairs and students from the ANZSOG Executive Masters Program, under
the supervision of the University of Sydney.
This 2016 study, undertaken in partnership with Black Swan Consulting, examined the challenges, aspirations, and motivations of NSW Aboriginal
Affairs staff in monitoring and evaluation spaces within their dual roles of Aboriginal community member and public servant. The study
found that Aboriginal public servants could play a more constructive and enabling role in breaking down the barriers that get in the way
of developing the rigorous evidence required to develop appropriate policy and practice responses. Achieving this requires re-thinking
the ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ paradigm. The paper concludes that the latter is unlikely to deliver the shared pool of expertise needed
in the Aboriginal affairs public evaluation space, and that the former would be assisted through professional development that equips Aboriginal
public servants with knowledge and skill in culturally appropriate research and evaluation.
This report provides the key findings of a literature review undertaken by the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW Australia) to inform the
methodological and ethical approach to the OCHRE evaluation. The report provides an overview of research and evaluation paradigms,
the different types of evaluations, and the different stances taken to discern between these types of evaluations. The review has a particular
focus on Indigenous evaluation theory and practice. The authors note that research and evaluation has tended to be viewed with hostility
and suspicion by most Indigenous communities, although this can be mitigated through community controlled approaches. The recent growth
in decolonising research approaches has led to the development of strict protocols and standards for researchers undertaking research in
Indigenous communities. However, the research literature has acknowledged that achieving these standards can be very challenging, and that
some are in tension with each other. Furthermore, there is little consideration about how to implement these standards in practice. Although
the literature recognises that qualitative research methods have been traditionally favoured in Indigenous research and evaluation projects,
the use of quantitative and economic evaluation methods is increasing, and can be used effectively if implemented in accordance with community
protocols. The review concludes by recognising the potential for research and evaluation to be used as a resource for Aboriginal communities
to advocate for their needs, for self-determination, and for the maintenance of language and culture.
Collection of NSW Aboriginal public policy, work in progress
With the input of NSW government departments, a collection of public policies relating to Aboriginal affairs in NSW has been established. The
policies included in the collection are those identified by the departments and operational in August 2015. The collection provides information
on the geographic coverage, target population and policy focus. The collection is a work in progress and will be updated as additional
information becomes available. This project was undertaken in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW Australia).
This report provides the results of a review of the literature on income management including benefits to individuals or communities, unintended
consequences, and whether its aims could be achieved through other means. The authors conclude that no study has demonstrated that income
management has resulted in improved parenting practices and child wellbeing for the mainstream population or for Aboriginal communities.
Further, that managing a family’s income through income management may not be the most suitable policy to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal
children and their communities. The authors recommend caution on the use of income management for Aboriginal children and their communities
and support alternative programs that have an established evidence base. The review was undertaken by the Social Policy Research Centre
(UNSW Australia) and the Parenting Research Centre.
A review of knowledge and meaning for Aboriginal peoples in NSW
Undertaken in partnership with Professor Kerry Arabena in 2015, this review of the literature provides insights and draws conclusions about
how Aboriginal peoples in NSW construct meaning, interpret their world, and assert their world view in the context of the predominant Western
way of thinking.
Australian frameworks describing the Aboriginal population
Undertaken in partnership with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2015, this project examined Australian frameworks, including
those under development, that describe the Aboriginal population. It includes information on why a framework was developed initially and
how it has changed over time; who was consulted in its development; the protocols, principles, theories and practicalities underpinning
the framework; its purpose and structure; the extent to which it includes the perspectives, views, knowledge systems and aspirations of
Aboriginal peoples; and the outcome of any evaluations.
Attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians
Using existing data from the Reconciliation Barometer in 2012 and 2014 and ANUPoll in 2014, this study explores attitudes towards issues related
to Aboriginal Australians both nationally and in NSW. The study was undertaken in partnership with the Australian National University’s
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research in 2015.
Aboriginal family violence
This review of the literature in 2014 was undertaken in partnership with Dr Kyllie Cripps and Julian Laurens, of the University of NSW’s Indigenous
Law Centre. It examined the nature, extent, causes and impact of Aboriginal family and domestic violence in NSW and current responses in
NSW and beyond. The authors identified significant gaps in the knowledge base, including a dearth of accurate statistics, too little research
focused specifically on Aboriginal families and communities, and few robust evaluations of programs and approaches on which evidence-based
responses can be built.
In 2013, Aboriginal Affairs undertook a study of the propensity of Aboriginal people in the state to identify as Aboriginal when seeking or
receiving a government service. The study sought to understand what affected this decision, and how more Aboriginal people might be encouraged
to identify as Aboriginal. This report provides the study findings.
The report provides the results of a scan of trends in NSW, and where relevant, broader demographic, economic and social environments, to identify
emerging issues relevant to Aboriginal people in NSW.
Undertaken in partnership with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University, the report identifies
19 areas of policy relevance, including demography, the economy, education, health and well-being, heritage, and justice and protection.
It highlights areas for policy consideration, with reference to relevant literature and data.
The Aboriginal population in NSW is estimated to be the largest in the country and one of the fastest growing. Part of this growth appears
to be driven by residents of NSW who were not identified as Indigenous in the 2006 Census, but were identified as such in the 2011 Census.
Aboriginal Affairs NSW, in partnership with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University, investigated
the demographic characteristics of the NSW populations that were identified as Indigenous in either the 2006 or the 2011 Census. The paper
publishes the results, which shed light on this identification change.
Published in partnership with the Healing Foundation, this report outlines the issues and outcomes from the OCHRE Healing Forum held on 23
July 2014. The forum provided a platform where policy makers – who influence the way their organisation thinks about and responds to healing
– could engage in a broad and open discussion with Aboriginal community members and service providers who are involved every day in trauma
and healing practices.
Aboriginal languages project
The Aboriginal languages project explores the connection between the teaching of Aboriginal languages and culture and the benefits to community
well-being and engagement with the education system. Dr Shayne Williams has produced two papers.
Dr Shayne Williams conducted a literature-based research study to explore the links between Aboriginal languages and cultures, Aboriginal community
well-being and Aboriginal engagement with the education system. Citing a Canadian study which found a direct link between the speaking
of an Indigenous language and a reduction in Indigenous youth suicide rates, Dr Williams concludes that Indigenous language use, as a marker
of cultural persistence, is a strong predictor of health and well-being in Canada’s Aboriginal communities.
This paper provides the theoretical, informal and research-based evidence within international, national and NSW literature analysing the triangularity
between the teaching and learning of Indigenous languages and cultures, educational engagement, participation and scholastic success, and
community health and well-being.
First published in 1981, this paper by Professor Peter Read documents the removal of Aboriginal children in NSW between 1883 and 1969, and
its enduring effects.
This report reviews a number of NSW Government Aboriginal economic development and employment initiatives to determine their effectiveness
in delivering the desired outcomes.