Report demands urgent reform to Queensland remote communities’ service delivery

A report from the Queensland Productivity Commission has labelled Queensland’s service delivery to remote Indigenous communities as “fundamentally broken.”

Approximately 20 percent of Queensland’s Indigenous population live in remote communities and the report found that despite “large expenditures by all governments,” the outcomes and opportunities available to these communities remain far behind the rest of Queensland.

An inquiry with stakeholders found there were instances where the infrastructure was available, however was unsuitable for use or was unable to be used.

The Service delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities report stated there were concerns about unnecessary requirements, high indirect costs and mismatched services to communities’ needs.

The Commission found a need for structural reform to the service delivery system to bring decision-making and accountability closer to the service users in remote communities.

For example, in any single community, at least 13 different Queensland Government departments plus the Federal Government play a part in policy development, coordination and service delivery.

The Commission labelled this a “bureaucratic ‘maze’” in their report which resulted in overlaps in responsibilities and unclear levels of accountability.

The report also said communities need to be at the centre of service delivery design and that there needs to be economic reform to enable community development and economic participation.

For these changes to be made smoothly, the Commission highlighted the need for both capability and capacity building within government, communities, and service providers.

The report said transparent reporting practices and data collection will also be required in order to enhance accountability and performance of a reformed service delivery model.

The Commission drafted 16 recommendations in areas including:

  • Structural reform
  • Policy and service delivery reform
  • Economic and community development
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Land tenure
  • Housing
  • Municipal services
  • Human services.

The report suggested for this reform to be most effective and transformative, the recommendations should be implemented together.

The Commission concluded that “up to half of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is estimated to be attributable to social determinants,” which means a large portion of the work needed to improve Indigenous Australians’ health outcomes lies outside of the health sector.

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