Case Study One
We were successful in being awarded a contract to undertake an audit of the accessibility and appropriateness of a local government’s services and facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) residents. The audit involved a three stage process:
- Preparation of an audit plan which was approved by management;
- Conduct of the audit and preparation of a draft report; and
- Finalise of the report noting any issues raised by management.
The process was completed within three months consistent with the agreed timeframe.
This audit involved reviewing the role and position of business units on all aspects of its service delivery for Aboriginal people and the implementation of the local government’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Key communication and change management aspects of this audit process involved reviewing policies and processes, discussing alternate options and challenging each unit over its established practices and way of doing business as part of a non-confrontation and educational process.
Our high-level communication and strategic management skills were employed to encourage senior managers and the Aboriginal community to actively engage in the audit process.
We carefully managed relationships with the local government’s senior managers to gain their full buy-in and adjust their perspective to enable them to objectively review current practices and service delivery outcomes. We also worked closely with the local Aboriginal community to gain their perspective and insights. A key element of this relationship was to gain their trust through communicating and interacting appropriately and honestly with local Aboriginal leaders, community groups, businesses and stakeholders.
The audit involved a range of specific questionnaires that reviewed whole-of-council and individual business unit policies, programs, strategies and facilities including assessing the following:
- Level of awareness in the Aboriginal community of the programs and services that are available and provided for by the local government;
- Appropriateness of design of services and facilities for Aboriginal community, including advisory or promotional material;
- Adequacy and quality of plans and strategies for service delivery and whether the target measures and milestones are relevant to Aboriginal people;
- The effectiveness of collaboration and coordination at all levels, both between business units, between business units and service providers;
- Identification of any other physical and/or cultural barriers to accessing programs or services within the local government; and
- Identification of whether services Aboriginal people require are being provided for within the local government (either by the local government or another body).
All managers participated in the audit and there was considerable enthusiasm for the process and an opportunity for managers to understand better how they could tap into this community.
A report was prepared containing the findings from the questionnaires and discussions with managers, staff and the Aboriginal community. The report provided a summary of the key issues and over one hundred recommendations that could be implemented to improve engagement, outcomes and service delivery to its Aboriginal residents (and the wider community) and give greater affect to its RAP.
One of the key outcomes of the audit was the establishment of systems that the local government could utilise in the future in a range of situations. For example the audit questionnaires themselves now provide senior managers with a tool to check progress on RAP implementation and cultural appropriateness of facilities and services.
Further, a template was designed which includes a series of questions and consideration that staff can work through to establish whether they have consulted and engaged effectively with Aboriginal people and taken into account their needs in the development of new council documentation or programs (i.e. Strategic Plan).
Case Study Two
We have been engaged by a local government to work with its Aboriginal community.
To-date we have:
- Reviewed and progressed the implementation of the local government’s Reconciliation Action Plan;
- Managed the operations and administration of the local government’s Cultural Advancement Group including monthly meetings and its activities;
- Investigated and reported on utilisation and improvements to client waiting facilities for the Street Doctor service;
- Conducted local events in parks promoting cultural awareness with non-Indigenous residents; and
- Liaised between the Aboriginal community, businesses and organisations and the local government on a wide range of issues.
This is an ongoing project and we have achieved considerable aboriginal and staff and general community engagement in the process to-date. The RAP implementation is on track and all milestones are being achieved.