Follow the money

September 26th, 2012

MONEY for programs in remote Northern Territory indigenous communities is being eaten away by bureaucracy, a new report says. 

AAP September 25, 2012

Northern Territory Co-ordinator General for Remote Services Olga Havnen handed down a scathing report on Tuesday calling for increased financial accountability to stop funds being leached away.

“Determining to what extent indigenous communities are benefiting from the increased expenditure of public funds is problematic when so much of the expenditure appears to be taken up by the bureaucracy,” Ms Haven said.

Ms Havnen recommended the annual expenditure on indigenous programs should include a breakdown of administrative costs such as staffing, salaries and travel.

She said current government programs addressing indigenous disadvantage “fail to sufficiently take into account the cultural context and needs of Aboriginal towns and communities”.

“They fail to target or counteract the entrenched structural racism and exclusionary practices affecting the provision and delivery of services,” she said in the report.

She called for decision-making power to be returned to communities.

Ms Havnen said there seemed to be a “confetti approach to funding”.

Too many programs continued to be fragmented, short-term and often delivered by non-indigenous providers operating in competition with Aboriginal organisations, she said.

“These third parties are not accountable to parliaments and too often are unaccountable to the communities in which they operate,” she said, adding that it was a lost opportunity to create jobs for indigenous people.

The report also calls on governments to address the lack of appropriate morgue and cemetery facilities in remote areas.

Amnesty International spokesman Rodney Dillon said Aboriginal people were being marginalised in the decision-making process.

“Aboriginal people who are affected by these programs need to have a seat at the table,” he said.