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‘It’s not about money’: Warren Mundine on combating indigenous disadvantage

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby wants indigenous Australians to be given access to a national fund for financial support, if they can’t secure rights to land under native title.

The suggestion, intended as an antidote for indigenous disadvantage, is meant to take cash out of the pockets of those who have not been dispossessed and redirect it towards achieving equality for indigenous communities.

But Michael McLaren isn’t sure this is a good idea.

There are concerns that the proliferation of indigenous spending has been poorly scrutinised. Research by the Centre for Independent Studies in 2016 suggests this is the case, with only 8 percent of the then 1,082 indigenous-specific programs reportedly being adequately evaluated.

Meanwhile in communities like Wilcannia, there were reportedly 102 indigenous services available in 2012, for just 474 indigenous individuals.

The enormous cash involved here has Michael questioning whether more money is really the answer.

“Why give more money, why even suggest more money, until you know that the money you’re already giving is being spent well?”

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine agrees.

“The issue isn’t about money,” says Mundine.

“We spend a lot of money and we’ve been spending a lot of money for decades now.  It’s about hitting the right areas, everything we do has to be measurable, it has to produce outcomes.”

“You’ve got to sort of shake your head at this. It isn’t the number of services. The problem is we’re not focused on actually providing just two or three services which will do the job, instead of a hundred other services.”

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