Terms of Reference: Indigenous Advisory Council

Indigenous AffairsIndigenous Advisory Council
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the Council) is appointed by the Prime Minister to advise the Australian Government on Indigenous policy and programmes. Its advice through Government and communities will support just and fair, practical and demonstrable holistic improvements in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families and communities, recognising the special place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold in this nation as the First Australians.

Introduction 

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the Council) is appointed by the Prime Minister to advise the Australian Government on Indigenous policy and programmes. Its advice through Government and communities will support just and fair, practical and demonstrable holistic improvements in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families and communities, recognising the special place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold in this nation as the First Australians.

Purpose

The Council will provide expert policy advice to the Australian Government on priority policy areas in Indigenous Affairs, informing policy design, implementation and practice.

The Council will add validity and rigour to the policy advice the Government receives and will support the Government’s increased focus on engagement to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Role

The Council will bring the breadth and depth of its policy expertise to:

  • current and emerging issues affecting First Australians
  • critically examine policies and programmes, and their implementation.

The Council’s advice will maintain a focus on the Government’s priorities of:

  • health and wellbeing, ensuring children attend and achieve at school
  • enhancing sustainable employment, engagement, and economic development opportunities
  • building safe and thriving communities, including dealing with violence and the underlying drivers of incarceration, high levels of mental illness as well as supporting and nurturing culture.

The Council will perform a key role in:

  • the Closing the Gap initiative
  • developing a greater focus on evidence in Indigenous Affairs policy, measuring impact and external oversight
  • increased accountability of Government and communities to effect positive changes in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and continued strengthening of community-level action including through COAG.

The Council will provide ongoing advice to the Australian Government on emerging policy and implementation issues related to Indigenous Affairs, including:

Engagement

1. Engaging with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative bodies, community organisations and stakeholders, Australian Government and State and Territory Government Ministers, and Australian Government agencies to influence and guide Indigenous and mainstream policy.

Advice to the Government

2. The Council will provide advice to the Government on the Government’s key policy priorities, and on matters as determined by the Council. This advice will be informed by relationships, including but not limited to:

a) The Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet (IPC)

I. The Council will have clear links to, and support the forward work programme of, the IPC and provide regular guidance on the development and implementation of the long-term plan for Indigenous Affairs, including the Closing the Gap refresh.

b) Productivity Commission

I. Once established, it is expected the Council will have close links with the Indigenous Commissioner of the Productivity Commission, to inform each other’s work.

c) Redfern Alliance organisations

d) State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers, or their delegates

e) Others as the Council considers appropriate.

3. The Government may request the Council to provide advice on specific policy and programme effectiveness and value adding, to help ensure that Indigenous programmes achieve just and fair, practical and demonstrable holistic improvement in the lives of Indigenous Australians. This includes, but is not limited to:

a) Closing the Gap refresh

I. The Council will play a key role in providing advice to the Government on the approach to develop a balanced set of measures, indicators and strategies to support the refresh of the Closing the Gap initiative, noting the significant financial investment by states and territories in these target areas.

b) Research and Evaluation

I. The Council’s view will be sought on the design of the Government’s investment into research into policy and its implementation.

II. The Council will provide guidance on the research directions, themes and results of the Indigenous Research Fund.

Indigenous Advisory Council Working Groups

4. Working Groups of the Council will be the primary vehicle for driving policy advice and formulating recommendations to be considered by the full Council. The Council will determine the number and focus of working groups required. These working groups may consult with or include external experts in the field to inform their deliberations.

a) Each working group will be convened by a Council member.

I. Membership of a working group may include representatives of relevant advisory bodies and/or representative groups with expertise and relevant skills.

b) A Working Group Chair will operate in close collaboration with a nominated representative from both the relevant policy area of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and if applicable, the relevant Australian Government agency.

c) Council Members will also engage and consult through the working groups with other policy experts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, business, academics, communities, and advocacy organisations to ensure advice provided to the Government is both informed, reflects research, and provides a diversity of views.

d) Council will also consider informing the Government options to address the missing community voice in policy development and implementation, and enhance engagement nationally to inform its work.

e) Working Group Chairs may seek input from a range of independent experts. Where this is the case, relevant costs associated with the independent expert’s attendance will be met and arrangements made through the Secretariat (travel, accommodation, meals and incidentals).

Evidence, Reporting, and Accountability

5. The Council will provide the Prime Minister and portfolio ministers advice and reports, including but not limited to:

a) Analysis and consideration on where Government and community action is proceeding well, and where further efforts are required.

b) Annual reporting to the Government on its activities, via letter to the Prime Minister.

c) Working Groups, together with relevant Ministers, to report on key findings and recommendations or progress of their work annually.


Past Terms of Reference: November 2013 to January 2017

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the ‘Council’) will provide advice to the Government on Indigenous affairs, and will focus on practical changes to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Role

  1. The Council will provide ongoing advice to the Government on emerging policy and implementation issues related to Indigenous affairs including, but not limited to:
    • improving school attendance and educational attainment
    • creating lasting employment opportunities in the real economy
    • reviewing land ownership and other drivers of economic development
    • preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
    • building reconciliation and creating a new partnership between black and white Australians
    • empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including through more flexible and outcome-focussed programme design and delivery
    • building the capacity of communities, service providers and governments
    • promoting better evaluation to inform government decision-making
    • supporting greater shared responsibility and reducing dependence on government within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    • achieving constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  2. The Council will engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including existing Indigenous advocacy bodies, to ensure that the Government has access to a diversity of views. The Council will also engage with other individuals and organisations, as relevant to the Government’s agenda.
  3. The Government may request the Council to provide advice on specific policy and programme effectiveness, to help ensure that Indigenous programmes achieve real, positive change in the lives of Aboriginal people.
  4. The Council will report annually to the Government on its activities, via letter to the Prime Minister.

Membership

  1. The Council will have up to 12 members, including a Chair and Deputy Chair. Members will be both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
  2. The Chair will be a part-time paid position. Other members will be paid sitting fees and costs related to meeting attendance.
  3. Membership will be for a term of up to three years, subject to an annual review of membership by the Prime Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
  4. Members will have a strong understanding of Indigenous culture and bring a diversity of expertise in economic development and business acumen, employment, education, youth participation, service delivery and health.
  5. The membership will include representation from both the private, public and civil society sectors and be drawn from across Australia, with at least one representative from a remote area.
  6. New members will be appointed by the Prime Minister following consultation with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Meetings

  1. The Council will meet three times annually with the Prime Minister and relevant senior ministers. One meeting will be held in Canberra, with the location of other meetings to be determined by the Council to support a shared understanding of the issues impacting upon Indigenous communities around Australia.
  2. The deliberation of the Council will be confidential, but the Council may choose to issue a statement after its meetings.
  3. In addition to minister-level meetings, the Council may decide to meet up to an additional three times per year.
  4. The Chair of the Council will have monthly meetings with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
  5. The quorum for Council meetings will be at least six members, including the Chair or Deputy Chair.
  6. The Council may also convene working groups as necessary, to consider particular issues in depth and report back to the full Council. These working groups may consult external experts in the field to inform their deliberations. Unless otherwise agreed by Government, working groups will meet on a non-remunerated basis.

Secretariat 

The Council will be supported by a secretariat from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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