Our Opinion

Development of an Aboriginal-led evaluation and review mechanism to hold government accountable in Aboriginal affairs

The Victorian State Government has released a discussion guide about establishing an Aboriginal-led evaluation and review mechanism. The purpose of an Aboriginal-led evaluation and review mechanism is to keep government accountable to the community in Aboriginal affairs, by tracking government’s progress against various commitments and agreements made. This includes evaluating and reviewing: government’s efforts to achieve goals, objectives and measures and government action to enable Aboriginal self-determination.

The concept for an Aboriginal-led accountability process came about through community engagement and consultation where Aboriginal Victorians raised concerns that none of the current accountability mechanisms met all of the community’s needs. In particular, participants stated that accountability in Aboriginal affairs should be:

  • independent of government
  • Aboriginal-led
  • Aboriginal-focused
  • resourced
  • have mechanisms that make them accountable to communities / clients
  • have power to hold government to account.

The discussion guide is intended to assist Aboriginal Victorians to lead the design of a new accountability mechanism including developing design principles, function, scope, membership, governance and terms of reference, with government being a partner in this process.

Some of the options being considered for this new accountability mechanism include an impartial and independent statutory body which is given functions, powers and duties through legislation, a place-based Aboriginal-led community cabinet, council or similar, or including the new functions within the role an existing Aboriginal governance group.

While this is a Victorian initiative, it is of significant interest more broadly as all jurisdictions struggle to fully implement in practice the commitments made through the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly Indigenous peoples’ right to self determination and the right to participate in decision making about matters affecting them.

As Aboriginal Victorians provide feedback on the ideas raised so far in the discussion guide and lead the design and development process for a new Aboriginal-led accountability mechanism, other governments and funded services might well watch with keen interest and be inspired to reconsider how they can enter into genuine partnerships and enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led processes, and how they might be more openly accountable to their communities.

For further details visit the Victorian Government website.

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