What doesn't work

The AIHW criteria guidelines also cover what doesn't work. These are important because they represent the way that most governments tend to develop policies and programs and are the types of processes that their own advisers clearly identify as not working. The criteria below identify the negative means that are still used too often and were recently quoted in the 2014 Report on Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, chaired by the Productivity Commission, as the reasons for poor centrally designed and imposed models.

Each of the five items below are criterion from the AIHW. You can click on each one for further information derived from our review of other reports, research and proposals

This approach is often used and forms a major flaw both in government programs and also sometimes in other services/NGO group projects. Political beliefs and administrative processes may see cookie-cutter models as easier to manage and apply, however these don’t work and exemplify the very issue the previous positive criteria aims to address.  

Successful interventions require the integration of services to provide continuity of care, community involvement, local leadership and culturally appropriate mainstream services. These steps help to ensure the suitability and availability of services, which can thereby improve access by Indigenous Australians. Multiple services in many locations fail if they are not locally connected and accepted.

Many local services resent what they regard as externally imposed changes to what they know is working, especially when they are excluded from decision making process, and when reporting processes do not seem to be used to create the changes they need or verify their implementation.

Interventions without local Indigenous control and culturally appropriate adaptation don't work. This common complaint breaches most of the criteria for what is working. As mentioned above, external decision making, one size fits all design and delivered services are most unlikely to engage locals and develop the levels of trust and good will in local communities and/or with clients that makes services effective or even appropriate.

The history of failures of Indigenous services is summed up in this item. Partial, short term and  inadequate interventions that fail to effectively deal with the identified problems or do not operate for long enough to make a difference must be avoided. While short term inflexible funding may tempt bureaucrats and community groups, these programs often undermine long-term relationships and possible future community engagement. Defunding some successful programs after pilots expire can also create future resistance to any program. Failure to plan, support and resource services, and ensure that local skills are developed, may similarly lead to local staff finding delivery of any service too hard.