Indigenous services

There is a significant gap between the living standards, life expectancy, educational attainment, health, and employment outcomes of Indigenous people and other Australians. Past practices—such as the forcible removal of Indigenous children—and their ongoing impact on individuals, families and communities are associated with this gap. Effective supports and services for Indigenous people build on individual and community strengths, engage Indigenous people in design and delivery, recognise the importance of Indigenous culture and knowledge, foster connections to community and country, are adapted to suit local needs and contexts, and address the need for continuity and coordination.

In 2008, the Coalition of Australian Governments agreed to ambitious targets to ‘Close the Gap’ in life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, literacy and numeracy achievements, Year 12 attainment and employment.

The strategy for achieving these targets reflects the need for a long-term, generational commitment, with major effort across a range of key areas: early childhood, schooling, health, economic participation, healthy homes, safe communities, and governance and leadership. It reflects the need for work in partnership with Indigenous communities, coordination across all levels of government, and input from the private and non-government sectors, communities and individuals.


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project

(NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2018)

Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project

(NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2018)

The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project is community driven, funded through philanthropic and commercial partners. While government has not had a funding role to date, the majority of the services working with the project are provided by government agencies or government funded programs provided by non-government organisations. A Cross-Sector Leadership Group chaired by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet are tasked with ensuring service alliance to support community driven outcomes. ARTD conducted a short review on behalf of Premier and Cabinet for the Cross-Sector Leadership Group to explore if the existing support provided by NSW government agencies was serving to identify and resolve issues preventing outcomes being delivered on the ground. ARTD interviewed a cross-section of stakeholders from Maranguka Justice Reinvestment, the Cross-Sector Leadership Executive group, Maranguka Working Groups and representatives from non-government organisations operating in Bourke. Findings were used by the Cross-Sector Leadership Group and Department of Premier and Cabinet to facilitate further discussions and decision making.

Fairfield Council Reconciliation Action Plan

(Fairfield City Council, 2018 – current)

Fairfield Council Reconciliation Action Plan

(Fairfield City Council, 2018 – current)

ARTD developed a five-year Reconciliation Action Plan for Fairfield City Council to promote reconciliation and inclusion of the community’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents between 2018 and 2022. ARTD reviewed the Council’s previous Plan and collected qualitative data through two workshops with key community stakeholders and Council staff and an online survey. We reviewed key national, state and local government policies and developed the Plan to fulfil the requirements for official endorsement from Reconciliation Australia. Throughout the process, we worked in close collaboration with the Council’s Community Project Officer, Aboriginal and the Aboriginal Steering Committee to ensure that the plan met the needs of the local Aboriginal community. The Plan included clear actions, outcomes and indicators and will be endorsed by Council in 2019.

Abcare evidence building partnership

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2018−current)

Abcare evidence building partnership

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2018−current)

Their Futures Matter reform has funding allocated to build an evidence base of promising programs that are seen to be improving outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people, families and community. Abcare, a Coffs Harbour community care centre providing foster and kinship care placements for Aboriginal children in out of home care, selected ARTD as an evidence building partner to help the organisation to demonstrate outcomes being achieved through their work. ARTD developed a literature review, program logic and outcomes matrix that aligned with the NSW Human Service Outcome Framework. We produced a manual for delivering the Personal Wellbeing Index to Aboriginal young people in out of home or kinship care for Abcare caseworkers, as well as delivering a training workshop with case workers to use the Personal Wellbeing Index. ARTD has assisted in embedding the process of entering the Personal Wellbeing Index into their existing database. The project will support Abcare to demonstrate outcomes of children and young people in out of home care and inform future rollout of the Aboriginal evidence building partnership project under Their Future Matters in 2019.

Tirkandi evidence building partnership

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2018−current)

Tirkandi evidence building partnership

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2018−current)

Their Futures Matter reform has funding allocated to build an evidence base of promising programs that are seen to be improving outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people, families and community. Tirkandi Inaburra, a remote cultural and development centre for Aboriginal boys 12-15, selected ARTD as an evidence building partner to help the organisation to demonstrate outcomes being achieved through their work. ARTD facilitated workshops with key stakeholders from the program, the Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of Education, to develop a program logic and outcomes matrix that aligned with the NSW Human Service Outcome Framework. We then developed a data matrix to document existing data collection processes, identified data gaps and new data collection opportunities and options. We are working closely with Tirkandi to develop and refine data tools and build a monitoring system and embed evidence-collecting in the program.

Evaluation of the Young Mob Leaders Program

(World Vision Australia, 2017−19)

Evaluation of the Young Mob Leaders Program

(World Vision Australia, 2017−19)

The Young Mob Leaders Program is a culturally centred positive youth development program for Aboriginal youth delivered in participating schools by World Vision Australia. ARTD is conducting a two-stage evaluation of the Program over a three-year period. ARTD undertook a comprehensive literature review to establish a theory of change and program logic. We then worked closely with World Vision staff to build an evidence base for the Program through refining monitoring data collection tools and processes and developing a data collection system. Monitoring data will be supplemented by the collection of qualitative data through school visits and interviews with program staff and stakeholders. We are developing two case studies of school the Program, which will be finalised at the beginning of 2018. Our final evaluation report will be delivered in March 2020. The Young Mob evaluation has been iterative in nature and ARTD is progressively feeding results and findings back to World Vision to support ongoing program improvement. Our findings will support the Program’s improvement, scale-up and ongoing funding.

Aboriginal Services Implementation Review

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

Aboriginal Services Implementation Review

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

ARTD were engaged to review the implementation of the Commitment to Improve Service Delivery to Aboriginal People 2010-2014 and Community Housing for Aboriginal People 2012-2014, strategies aimed at improving service delivery to Aboriginal clients in the NSW social housing system. We reviewed progress made in delivering the strategies (and their associated action plans) within timeframes; assessed outcomes and made recommendations for ongoing priorities for service and system improvements which were used to inform new strategic directions.

Evaluation of the Aboriginal Women Leaving Custody (AWLC) strategy

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

Evaluation of the Aboriginal Women Leaving Custody (AWLC) strategy

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

The AWLC Strategy was developed by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) and Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) to inform policy and procedural changes to reduce homelessness and returns to custody, and to improve wellbeing, among Aboriginal women leaving custody. The ambitious multi-agency project was implemented alongside major reforms in the social housing system and homelessness sector. ARTD’s evaluation examined the effectiveness of legal and transitional support services for Aboriginal women leaving custody, reviewed the progress of interagency work towards making system improvements, and considered the implications of the Strategy for future service design and interagency work. To do this we analysed service data; consulted with government, service and sector stakeholders; reviewed documentation produced through the Strategy, and interviewed Aboriginal women who were in custody or had recently been released. Successfully designing and delivering the evaluation also involved consultations with Aboriginal people and community organisations, and the evaluation team met with community elders to gain an Aboriginal community perspective on the findings. FACS and CSNSW are using the evaluation findings to prioritise ongoing work to improve post-release outcomes for Aboriginal women, and for people leaving custody more broadly. 

Evaluation of the Employment Related Accommodation Program

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2014)

Evaluation of the Employment Related Accommodation Program

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2014)

The Employment Related Accommodation Program is an initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. Established in 2009, it was intended to provide Indigenous people from remote areas secure and affordable accommodation in regional centres while they undertake full-time study or become established in new employment. In January 2014, ARTD was contracted to evaluate the initial period of Program implementation. We took a mixed-methods approach, making use of existing monitoring and costs data, and collecting new data from housing providers, tenants and other stakeholders. The evaluation findings will inform future roll-out of the program, as well as program improvement in existing sites.

Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion: Evaluation of the Alumni Project

(University of Sydney, 2014)

Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion: Evaluation of the Alumni Project

(University of Sydney, 2014)

Established in the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, in 1998, the Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion aims to provide a pathway to higher education for Indigenous health workers; a globally recognised qualification; and knowledge and skills specifically for advanced health promotion in urban, rural and remote Indigenous communities. The diploma program received funding to enhance students’ learning experience through alumni returning to contribute to the block teaching program. ARTD was invited to support an evaluation of the Alumni Project and worked collaboratively with staff and students to measure the outcomes of the program through surveys and interviews. Positive findings resulted in further funding being sought to continue the Alumni Project. A paper on the findings has been prepared for publication in an appropriate academic journal. 

Development of framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Development of framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

We used a consultative and iterative process to develop a framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies across Social Housing. The project began with a review of published literature, consultations across the state with Aboriginal service providers, and a state-wide forum of service providers from across the social housing sector. We used the information to develop a draft framework, which was then tested with Housing NSW and Community Housing providers to ensure key issues were not overlooked and difficult issues were confronted head-on. The project delivered an evidence-based framework to guide social housing teams in supporting positive tenancy outcomes for Aboriginal clients. It has been published and printed for distribution by FACS to the social housing sector.

Development of an evaluation framework and strategy for Teach Remote

(Northern Territory Department of Education, 2014)

Development of an evaluation framework and strategy for Teach Remote

(Northern Territory Department of Education, 2014)

Teach Remote was a teacher quality and supply measure for remote Indigenous schools, comprising 14 cross-jurisdictional projects and coordinated by the National Research Alliance for Indigenous Schools. ARTD developed an evaluation framework and strategy for this measure and conducted a formative evaluation of the first phase. The formative evaluation drew on evidence from project reports, interviews with project managers and surveys of teachers working in Indigenous schools. The evaluation found mixed success across the different projects with a fairly low level of awareness among teachers and a lack of buy-in from jurisdictions limiting the implementation of some projects. The second phase of Teach Remote was not funded.

Development and evaluation of Aboriginal consultation model

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2010 and 2012-14)

Development and evaluation of Aboriginal consultation model

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2010 and 2012-14)

Protecting Aboriginal Children Together (PACT) is a Keep Them Safe initiative, designed to respond to recommendation 8.5 of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW to ‘consider establishing a ‘Lakidjeka’ type model of consultation to provide an Aboriginal perspective in relation to the best ways of keeping children and young people safe’. In 2010, ARTD worked with Community Services, the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW), and community stakeholders to develop the service model, guidelines for providers, and a methodology for determining service costs. In 2011, two sites were selected and local Aboriginal non-government services were funded to pilot PACT, working alongside Community Services caseworkers.

ARTD was subsequently engaged to evaluate the pilot to inform decisions about further rollout across NSW. We delivered the project in partnership with the steering committee. With the program’s extended establishment period, the focus of the two-stage evaluation was on assessing how implementation worked in practice and gathering early indications about what the model can achieve in two very different sites. We interviewed PACT and Community Services staff, families and community representatives to understand how the model was working from their perspectives. We also analysed program monitoring and administrative data to assess implementation and early outcomes, and collected costs and workload data to identify any adjustments needed to the cost modelling developed for the pilot. The evaluation informed ongoing management of the pilot.

Evaluation of cultural immersion training program for teachers

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Evaluation of cultural immersion training program for teachers

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Connecting to Country is an innovative new program designed to develop teachers’ and principals’ willingness and ability to establish relationships with Aboriginal students through learning about their cultural, linguistic and family background. The program aims to promote quality teaching, and improve engagement and educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. ARTD’s evaluation focused on understanding and describing the impact of the program on principals, teachers, and Aboriginal students, their families and local communities. To get an in-depth understanding , we used mainly qualitative methods: observation of training sessions and interviews with principals, teachers, Aboriginal students and community representatives. Our report informed ongoing implementation of the program in NSW, and the Department submitted it to the Commonwealth Department of Education as part of the evidence about the value of the program.

Evaluation of Aboriginal Intensive Family-Based Services

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

Evaluation of Aboriginal Intensive Family-Based Services

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

Four Aboriginal non-government organisations were funded to deliver Intensive Family-Based Services with a step-down component under Keep Them Safe, the NSW Government’s response to the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW. ARTD was engaged to conduct a process and outcomes evaluation of the services in two stages. The process component identified how the services could be more effectively delivered to meet the needs of families and other stakeholders. The outcomes component assessed the services’ impact on the number of substantiated risk of harm reports and out-of-home care placements for children and young people in participating families.

Evaluation of training for Aboriginal mental health workers

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2012-13)

Evaluation of training for Aboriginal mental health workers

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2012-13)

The NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Worker Training Program is a comprehensive three-year training program for selected Aboriginal people, which combines onsite workplace training in NSW mental health services with the completion of a relevant tertiary degree. ARTD undertook broad consultation with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, appropriate reference groups and individuals, to obtain input to the evaluation design. We subsequently received approval from the NSW Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council to undertake the evaluation. We used an inclusive methodology, with site visits to all Local Health District mental health services that were currently hosting (or had previously hosted) trainees during which we conducted individual interviews with trainees, graduates, their supervisors and mentors, Directors of Mental Health, and Directors of Aboriginal Health. This was followed by an online survey of NSW mental health services and phone interviews with additional graduates. We also visited several local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and interviewed the Directors and staff. ARTD prepared a comprehensive report and recommendations for the NSW Ministry of Health and these have subsequently formed the basis of a work plan to address the issues identified by the evaluation. 

Evaluation of Two Streams Together

(Aboriginal Affairs NSW, 2012)

Evaluation of Two Streams Together

(Aboriginal Affairs NSW, 2012)

Two Streams Together aims to increase the retention of Aboriginal young people in high school and, ultimately, to improve their opportunities for further training and employment. It is provided in partnership between Greenacres Disability Services and Shoalhaven High School, and has been operational since 2007. ARTD consulted with staff and students and drew on monitoring data to evaluate the impact of the program. The evaluation findings supported the service providers in their strategic planning.