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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 415. Updated Tuesday, 24 June 2014

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DHS patchy on Indigenous services

An audit of the Department of Human Services' support for the delivery of services to Indigenous Australians has found that while the Department had developed a reasonable approach to improving its focus on support, it was not consistent across the organisation.

In his report Initiatives to Support the Delivery of Services to Indigenous Australians, Auditor-General, Ian McPhee said the Department had developed an Indigenous Servicing Strategy that provided the foundation of a planning and monitoring framework to support Indigenous servicing across the Department.

"However, while various areas of the Department pay specific attention to the accessibility of the services they are able to influence or control, this is not uniformly the case across the organisation," Mr McPhee said.

"In particular, the approach taken by different business areas and service zones to reflect Indigenous service issues was variable, with some areas demonstrating considered approaches while other areas adopted a more minimalist approach."

Audit finds approach inconsistent

Mr McPhee said the Audit found Indigenous usage data, while available, was not regularly extracted for analysis and often did not allow a comparison to be made between non‑Indigenous usage and Indigenous usage of services.

He said such comparative analysis would contribute to the Department's understanding of whether equitable and accessible services were being provided for Indigenous clients.

Mr McPhee said through the Indigenous Servicing Strategy, DHS had established a performance framework to provide internal management information on the Department's performance in providing services to Indigenous customers.

He said the framework was a positive step in developing a departmental‑wide view of Indigenous usage of key services, but there was scope to improve the measures used in the framework through the inclusion of baseline information on service usage by Indigenous customers and targets for its improvement.

Mr McPhee said the ANAO had made one recommendation aimed at improving the use of existing data within DHS in order to inform service delivery, service design and to enhance the Department's ability to contribute to policy development.

The Audit Team included Tony Varnes, Loretta Cheung, Natasha Brennan, Gillian Meek, Emily Wells, and Moustafa Abdel‐Nasser.

To view the full report go to this PS News link.

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