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By Justin Healey

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Until now, politicians have not acknowledged this but maybe the new players will loosen the old bureaucratic and political biases. The following extracts from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s speech on the sixth annual Closing the Gap report suggest he may see options for reviewing processes: Even as things began to change, a generation or two back our tendency was to work ‘for’ Aboriginal people rather than ‘with’ them. We objectified Aboriginal issues rather than personalised them. We saw problems to be solved rather than people to be engaged with ...

It is, in effect, our national Indigenous policy. It is worth asking deeper questions about what Closing the Gap brings to the political conversation and what it leaves out. will ‘walk the talk’ to close the gap is still unclear. Abbott has a ‘passionate’ personal commitment to this area. He reaffirmed on Wednesday his election promise to spend one week a year in a remote Indigenous community. The continual focus on the ‘gap’ itself sidelines public debate about why the gap exists and how it can be closed.

We are concerned that, despite the data from AIHW and their use by the Productivity Commission, the service delivery sections of government and their political masters show few signs that many were taking the criteria seriously. If they had, they would have changed their top-down, culturally inappropriate design, delivery and funding processes. In an effort to publicise these flawed processes and the possible improvements for communities and bureaucrats, and maybe politicians, I am collating a range of quotes from mainly federal agency reports WHAT WORKS The Clearinghouse has continued to find that there are high-level principles and practices that underpin successful programs for Indigenous Australians.

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