BY AMY MCQUIRE, JUNE 1, 2011
Originally published in Tracker Magazine.
NEW SOUTH WALES: The co-chair elect of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has stood by a failed Aboriginal policy in New South Wales which she was responsible for implementing.
Jody Broun was Director-General of Aboriginal Affairs NSW (formerly the Department of Aboriginal Affairs) from 2003 to 2010, and oversaw the implementation and development of the state’s major Aboriginal affairs policy – Two Ways Together.
While campaigning for the National Congress, Ms Broun listed the policy on her resume as one of her main achievements, alongside a “major review of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act”. She was elected as co-chair alongside human rights activist Les Malezer earlier this year.
Last month, an Auditor-General’s report into the Two Ways Together policy, organised by the former Labor government before losing office, found that it had “not delivered the improvement in overall outcomes for Aboriginal people that was intended”.
Premier Barry O’Farrell said that his government would take the audit seriously, stating that the report raised “significant concerns about the former Labor government’s approach to Aboriginal affairs”.
“Sadly, there have been significant human and financial costs as a result of Labor’s policy failure,” Mr O’Farrell said in a statement. Aboriginal Affairs NSW acknowledged the report, and problems with Two Ways Together, but shied away from labelling it a failure.
In a statement to Tracker, Ms Broun also rejected the “interpretation” that the report labelled the policy a failure, stating the Auditor-General had considered the policy “elevated the issue of Aboriginal disadvantage within the NSW Government agencies”.
Ms Broun also claimed the $200 million joint Aboriginal Water and Sewerage program, between the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council* and the NSW government, was another example of success of the policy.
“I remain proud of initiatives such as the successful $40 million (sic) Water and Sewerage Maintenance Program as a central plank of the Two Ways program… There are 63 Aboriginal communities that now have more reliable and safe water and sewerage because of it and that is no small achievement,” Ms Broun said.
“Two Ways has always been a 10-year program.
“While it is not surprising that more still needs to be done, even when it is complete, the state government will need to invest in many more communities.”
NSWALC CEO Geoff Scott noted the water and sewerage program was a NSWALC initiative, and was worth $200 million, not $40 million. He also said it was misleading to claim it as part of Two Ways Together, or to suggest Aboriginal Affairs NSW implemented the program.
* Tracker is published by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council.