- The Parties commit to systemic and structural transformation of mainstream government organisations to improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Priority Reform Three was strongly supported by the 2019 engagement process.
‘To be effective, mainstream organisations need to spend time understanding what is happening in our communities and need to recognise and understand the skills that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold.’
(Engagement participant at Coalition of Peaks membership meeting in the Torres Strait)
- The Government Parties commit to implement the following transformation elements within government mainstream institutions and agencies:
- Identify and eliminate racism – Identify and call out institutional racism, discrimination and unconscious bias in order to address these experiences. Undertake system-focused efforts to address disproportionate outcomes and overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by addressing features of systems that cultivate institutionalised racism. The feedback from the engagements included that more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be employed in mainstream institutions and agencies, including through more identified positions, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in senior positions, and appointments to boards.
- Embed and practice meaningful cultural safety – Embed high-quality, meaningful approaches to promoting cultural safety, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s strength in their identity as a critical protective factor. This applies to all levels of staff within government organisations. Feedback from the engagements included making cultural awareness training courses ongoing for all boards and staff. Another strategy could be to strengthen the role of internal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander units in promoting and monitoring cultural safety.
- Deliver services in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people – Develop genuine relationships between government organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and/or businesses to enhance the quality and cultural safety of mainstream service delivery. Feedback from the engagements included supporting agreements between hospitals and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations to deliver outpatient services.
- Increase accountability through transparent funding allocations – Improve transparency of resource allocation to, and distribution by, mainstream institutions in relation to dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service‑delivery. Feedback from the engagements included requiring key performance indicators in funding arrangements. Other suggestions included for Auditors-General to include in their audits of mainstream agencies information about expenditure and the quality of service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures – Ensure government organisations identify their history with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and facilitate truth-telling to enable reconciliation and active, ongoing healing. Feedback from the engagements included government organisations building relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to enable them to understand and reflect the history and culture of local communities.
- Improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – Ensure when governments are undertaking significant changes to policy and programs that primarily impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they engage fully and transparently. Engagements should be done in a way where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: have a leadership role in the design and conduct of engagements; know the purpose and fully understand what is being proposed; know what feedback is provided and how that is being taken account of by governments in making decisions; and are able to assess whether the engagements have been fair, transparent and open. The engagements on the National Agreement, led by the Coalition of Peaks in partnership with Government parties, demonstrated the benefit of this approach.
- Government Parties, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, commit to systemic and structural transformation to ensure government mainstream institutions and agencies are free of institutionalised racism and promote cultural safety in line with the transformation elements at Clause 59.
- Government Parties commit to challenge unconscious biases that result in decisions based on stereotypes. Addressing institutional racism and promoting cultural safety are essential requirements that are the responsibility of governments, in line with the transformation elements.
- When Government Parties change, design or deliver policies and programs that impact on the outcomes of this Agreement, they will do so in line with this Agreement.
- Government Parties commit to share and publish their engagement approaches that give effect to the transformation elements on engagements at Clause 59(f).
- The Government Parties also commit to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives before, during, and after emergencies such as natural disasters and pandemics to make sure that:
- government decisions take account of the impact of those decisions on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not disproportionately affected and can recover as quickly as other Australians from social and economic impacts.
- Government Parties will include in their annual reports information on how they are undertaking and meeting the transformation elements.
- Government Parties’ investment in mainstream institutions and agencies will not come at the expense of investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services.
- By 2023, Government Parties agree to each identify, develop or strengthen an independent mechanism, or mechanisms, that will support, monitor, and report on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions. The mechanism, or mechanisms, will:
- support mainstream agencies and institutions to embed transformation elements, as outlined in Clause 59, and monitoring their progress
- be recognisable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and be culturally safe
- engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to listen and to respond to concerns about mainstream institutions and agencies
- report publicly on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions, including progress, barriers and solutions.
- In 2025, the Parties to the Agreement will meet and consider progress on Priority Reform Three and make additional partnership actions if needed and the Agreement will be updated accordingly.