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Measuring outcomes for Indigenous Australia. ABS NatStats conference 20 November 2008. Robert Fitzgerald AM Commissioner Productivity Commission. The power of data. Statistics are most powerful when they not only tell what is but drive us to do what should be done.

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Measuring outcomes for indigenous australia

Measuring outcomesforIndigenous Australia

ABS NatStats conference

20 November 2008

Robert Fitzgerald AM


Productivity Commission

The power of data
The power of data

Statistics are most powerful

when they not only tell what is

but drive us to do what should be done.

New coag emphasis on accountability
New COAG emphasis on accountability

  • Specific Purpose Payments- indigenous outcome indicators

  • COAG targets – closing the gap

  • COAG Working group on Indigenous Reform- Building blocks framework

  • Expenditure- on services to Indigenous Australians

  • PM’s Annual Report to Parliament

Coag targets
COAG targets

  • Close the life expectancy gap within a generation

  • Halve gap in mortality rates for children under five within a decade

  • Halve gaps in reading, writing & numeracy within a decade

  • All four year olds in remote communities access to early childhood education within five years

  • At least halve the gap for students in year 12 attainment or equivalent by 2020

  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes within a decade

A national integrated reporting framework
A national integrated reporting framework

To reach the targets, we need information on:

  • High level outcomes:

    • Are we making progress towards the targets?

  • Expenditure on services:

    • Can expenditure be linked to outcomes?

  • Program effectiveness:

    • What contribution do programs/services make

    • to achieving outcomes?

How does the oid fit in
How does the OID fit in?

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators

  • Commissioned by all governments in Australia

  • Reports every 2 years

  • Intergovernmental steering committee & working group

  • Indicators that :

    • are relevant to governments

    • are relevant to Indigenous stakeholders

    • demonstrate the collective impact of programs and policies

Not just another report
‘Not just another report’

  • A strategic framework

    • An agent for change and implementation tool

  • An nationally agreed basis for measuring progress

    • A two yearly report card on progress

    • Imbedded into state and territory frameworks

A preventive model multiple causes education

Early child development

  • Hearing impediments

Education and training

  • Literacy and numeracy

  • Attendance

Safe & supportive communities


A preventive model:multiple causes – education

Year 10/12 attainment

Tertiary attainment

Substance abuse

A preventive model multiple causes health
A preventive model:multiple causes – health

Life expectancy

DisabilityChronic disease

Early child development

  • Infant mortality; Birthweight

  • Injury & preventable disease

Safe & supportive communities

  • Alcohol, tobacco & substance use & harm

Healthy lives

  • Primary health care; mental health

Healthy homes

A preventive model:multiple effects – overcrowding


Domestic violence

School attendanceand performance

Substance abuse


in housing

A preventive model:multiple effects – alcohol




Domestic violence

Alcohol consumption and harm

Proposed aligned framework
Proposed ‘aligned’ framework

Tier 1

COAG targets added to

Headline Indicators

Tier 2

WGIR Building Blocks aligned with OID Strategic areas

Coag targets added to headline indicators


Infant mortality

Life expectancy

Early childhood education

Reading, writing & numeracy

Year 12 attainment



Disability & chronic disease

Household & individual income

Substantiated child abuse & neglect

Post secondary education

Family and community violence

Imprisonment & juvenile detention

COAG targets added to headline indicators


Wgir building blocks aligned with oid strategic areas for action
WGIR Building Blocks aligned with OID strategic areas for action

COAG targets & Headline indicators






Safe andsupportivecommunities


  • Strategic change indicators include:

  • OID indicators

  • WGIR indicators

  • SPP Indigenous indicators

Indicator criteria
Indicator criteria

  • Relevance to priority outcomes

  • Movements in strategic change indicators influence headline indicators

  • Meaningful to stakeholders including the Indigenous community

  • Sensitive to policy interventions

  • Supported by strong logic or empirical evidence

  • Unambiguous and clear in meaning and interpretation

  • Existence or ease of developing data sets

Potential new indicators for 2009 oid
Potential new indicators for 2009 OID

  • Maternal health

  • Maternal age at first birth

  • Basic skills for life and learning

  • Teacher quality

  • Obesity and nutrition

  • Income support

Areas for development
Areas for development

Areas of the framework identified for development:

  • economic participation and development

  • justice outcomes

  • substance use and misuse

  • social and emotional wellbeing and mental health

  • governace

  • cultural indicators

Data issues
Data issues

  • Improving existing collections

    • Births and deaths

    • Hospitals

    • Medicare

    • School enrolment

  • Addressing immediate gaps

    • Crime victims and perpetrators

    • Improved regional data

  • Longer term

    • Addressing barriers to self-identification

Statistics can t measure everything

‘Things that work’

Case studies of successful programs

Demonstrate that change is possible

Communities and agencies can learn from each other

‘Success factors’ can be identified

Statistics can’t measure everything

Success factors in things that work
Success factors in ‘things that work’:

  • Cooperative approaches

  • ‘Bottom-up’ community involvement

  • Ongoing support

  • Good governance

    • Including in Government as well as communities and organisations

Measuring matters
Measuring matters

  • Measuring outcomes matters but only if the data/indicators are respected by and are relevant to all stakeholders

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders deserve a more strategic, evidence based approach with their input respected.

  • Knowing more about what is will achieve little if we don’t put in place the means to effectively interpret, evaluate and respond.