31 July 2018

Research paper: Lessons from the inquiry into service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

This paper provides insights from the Queensland Productivity Commission on the lessons learned while conducting the Inquiry into service delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through focusing on the independent public inquiry process, consultation with communities and the use of economic frameworks to build recommendations for a complex environment. The Commission identified three key aspects from the inquiry process. First, the independent, public Inquiry process helped deliver better advice to government.  Second, while consultation was a challenge, this process delivered a high return. The paper included discussion of the challenges the Commission faced in conducting consultations with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and how these were dealt with. Third, the value of applying economic analysis to complex social problems as economics can ‘cut through’ the ideology and politics of complex social problems. The Commission concluded that key elements of the public inquiry process—independence, evidence-based advice and consultation—all played an important role in making the case for reform. Further, it noted that although the inquiry focused on Queensland’s remote and discrete communities, the organisational lessons are applicable to other jurisdictions and policy sectors and should prove helpful to those conducting complex policy reviews in the future.