“Dismally poor returns to date”
: A review of the Indigenous affairs system

  • Kevin John Dolman

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The objective of this research is to contribute to the understanding of why significant annual public expenditure over the past five decades has failed to significantly and sustainably improve the socioeconomic status of Indigenous Australians. The reasons are numerous but the enduring nature of the failure points to the possibility that there are systemic public administration problems. Following this hypothesis, the relationship between the quality of public administration of the Indigenous affairs system and its capacity to realise the desired socioeconomic improvements is explored.

    The thesis comprises a case study of a five-year national project to reform the Indigenous affairs system, which was implemented under the direct authority of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) between 2002-2007. The COAG Indigenous Whole-of-Government Trials Project (the COAG Trials Project), as it was known, required Commonwealth, State and Territory Government agencies to experiment with the provision of government services in eight trial regions (one in each State and Territory). The Governments were required to prioritise, plan and deliver services in each trial site through an approach that involved; 1) whole-of-government coordination, and 2) a partnership with the Indigenous communities.

    The focus of the case study is to analyse the quality of the public administration of the COAG Trials Project. Different analytical methods are applied to appraise the policy development, implementation, and evaluation stages. The data from the appraisals of the three stages is then discussed in order to generate wider inferences about the systemic impediments that may be hindering the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australian Indigenous affairs system.
    Date of AwardApr 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Bennett (Supervisor)

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