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The following articles outline arrangements that have been made for senior public officials to 'champion' the causes of various remote aboriginal communities.
Senior bureaucrats will gain control of all aspects of government spending in 10 remote Aboriginal communities under advice from community elders - to end problems associated with agencies being able to address just one problem amongst many. A holistic approach is needed whereby one person can come in and make things happen in accordance with priorities of people living in the area - rather than the priorities of officials living in Canberra. (Schubert M. 'Bureaucrats adopt black communities', A, 26/9/02)
Queensland Greens spokesman, Hutton, has poured scorn on Queensland Government's proposal to require DGs of various departments to champion the development of partnerships between government and Aboriginal communities. However this initiative is aimed at remote Aboriginal communities where social disasters of substance abuse and welfare dependency were brought to light by Tony Kock at the Courier Mail. Hutton says that the concept is tokenistic, and that indigenous self determination should be the basic principle of indigenous affairs. However the concept of champions was developed by Aboriginal leaders as a reflection of self-determination and put to the state - not the other way around. Perhaps it is Hutton who should accept the concept of 'indigenous self determination'. In Cape York novel solutions to the problems that uncoordinated bureaucracy represents are being trialed. One goal is to give meaning to the concept of partnership between government and aboriginal communities. Second, the partnership is to be based on negotiation, not just consultation. Third it is intended to contribute to the efforts of different government agencies and community groups to get holistic responses to problems. Forth, aboriginal people want to take responsibility. Finally, government must be accountable. Who better than DGs to account for the success or failure of bureaucrats? Efforts by governments to develop coordination and whole-of-government solutions have not worked in practice. The Premier has placed progress on Cape York Partnerships on DGs' performance contracts. For the Queensland Government to move to new relationships with Aboriginal Communities, DGs will need to first take responsibility for making the change work. Unlike Yes Minister, Queensland's DGs have agreed to take a risk personally and directly in dealing with Queensland's gravest policy challenge. Governments are moving to help solve real problems. Rhetoric about self determination needs to be put aside (Pearson N. 'Cape York champion scheme a trial for true partnership', CM, 3/9/02)
People in remote aboriginal communities will have instant access to the state's most powerful bureaucrats - under a Community Champions program. This will ensure fast-track responses to complaints and other community concerns (Reid R. 'Bureaucrats mend indigenous bridges', CM, 24/8/02)
Even though this arrangement has been developed by indigenous communities to give 'meaning' to the Cape York Partnerships, quite different types of methods are needed to achieve their goals (ie focused on enabling members of those communities to take economic and other practical initiatives) .
At the very best, the types of support that might be mobilized by senior bureaucratic 'champions' would not be what aboriginal communities really need. And the quality of support that indigenous communities do need will mostly not be available to be found through a process of negotiation with governments.
Difficulties likely to emerge under this model are that: