..



.

Business News

a failure to account for 'cultural counterfactuals'

  • Written by George Denny-Smith, Scientia PhD Researcher, Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW

Australia’s 12th Closing the Gap[1] report, published yesterday, shows by most socio-economic measures Indigenous Australians continue to lag behind the rest of the population.

Only two of seven targets – early education and Year 12 completion rates – are on track. On the five others – child mortality, school attendance, literacy and numeracy, employment and life expectancy – there has been little or no improvement.

Read more: 'Closing the Gap' process will better involve Indigenous Australians: Morrison[2]

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt says it’s another failure[3] of Indigenous policy in Australia.

The Indigenous employment rate, for example, has improved by less than a percentage point in a decade – to 49%, compared with 75% for non-Indigenous Australians.

Cultural counterfactuals

One of the problems with government policies for Indigenous Australians is their lack of sensitivity to cultural differences. In particular, they fail to account for Indigenous notions of value.

As noted in a 2019 report[4] from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on how to break the cycle of entrenched disadvantage, there’s a lack of contact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. This means public opinion and government policy evaluations are generally unaware there are different Indigenous notions of social value.

We call the adjustments that need to be made in policy and measurement to account for these different perceptions of value “cultural counterfactuals[5]”.

Read more: Three reasons why the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians aren't closing[6]

A good example of what this looks like can be found in Peak Hill, a small town between Parkes and Dubbo in New South Wales.

Here Maliyan Horizon[7], an Indigenous civil construction company, has been connecting people with jobs on country.

Creating sustainable careers for Aboriginal people in regional areas is a core business objective. The company does this through its commitment to training, upskilling and mentoring staff.

The company gives extra assistance, for example, to employees who have never before have had a full-time job. It also consults with local traditional owners to stay in touch with the needs of the community it works in.

Indigenous procurement policy

The federal government’s Indigenous procurement policy[8], on the other hand, is a good example of failing to account for cultural counterfactuals.

Since its introduction in 2015, this procurement policy has become one of the main government instruments to promote greater employment for Indigenous Australians. It requires all federal government agencies spend a percentage of their budgets with Indigenous enterprises.

According to the third-year evaluation of the policy by Deloitte Consulting, published in December 2019[9], the policy is a success by one key performance indicator – the number of Indigenous enterprises contracted to the Commonwealth government – and an “outstanding success” by the other – the number and value of contracts awarded to Indigenous enterprises. The report says:

Currently, Commonwealth procurement is exceeding the target by 4.1 percentage points (7.1% compared to 3.0%). In respect of providing genuine and sustainable economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses there is room for improvement as the above-mentioned 5.0% of total contracts issued equates to 1.5% of the value of those contracts.

But do Indigenous communities see it the same way?

IPP evaluation

Deloitte’s report has many good qualities. It makes useful recommendations. It doesn’t ignore problems like black cladding[10] – where businesses employ Indigenous staff just to qualify for a government contract but have no commitment to providing stable long-term jobs.

But there is one fatal flaw.

Deloitte’s evaluation process involved focus groups with the owners and managers of Indigenous businesses. But the employees, the people supposed to be the beneficiaries of the policy, weren’t included.

This should be considered a major flaw in any policy evaluation. It assumes economic benefits from business will trickle down to communities. There is little evidence[11] to prove it.

Read more: It's time we moved the goalposts on Indigenous policies, so they reflect Indigenous values[12]

One of the evaluation’s recommendations is to use a measure called social return on investment (SROI) for contracts greater than A$4 million. This highly controversial idea attempts to reduce social policy impacts to a monetary value[13]. It has been criticised for glossing over social and cultural[14] complexities in its attempt to calculate a single financial value[15].

Towards more effective evaluations

Policies for Indigenous people should involve consulting Indigenous people to better reflect and prioritise Indigenous cultural knowledge and experiences. So should evaluations of those policies.

It’s crazy to not account for the perspectives of the people those policies are designed for.

Without more attention to cultural counterfactuals, Indigenous Australians will continue to be misrepresented[16]. And Indigenous policies will continue to fail.

References

  1. ^ Closing the Gap (www.niaa.gov.au)
  2. ^ 'Closing the Gap' process will better involve Indigenous Australians: Morrison (theconversation.com)
  3. ^ failure (www.smh.com.au)
  4. ^ 2019 report (www.ceda.com.au)
  5. ^ cultural counterfactuals (www.arcom.ac.uk)
  6. ^ Three reasons why the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians aren't closing (theconversation.com)
  7. ^ Maliyan Horizon (www.maliyanhorizon.com.au)
  8. ^ Indigenous procurement policy (www.niaa.gov.au)
  9. ^ published in December 2019 (www.niaa.gov.au)
  10. ^ black cladding (www.themandarin.com.au)
  11. ^ little evidence (openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au)
  12. ^ It's time we moved the goalposts on Indigenous policies, so they reflect Indigenous values (theconversation.com)
  13. ^ monetary value (www.semanticscholar.org)
  14. ^ social and cultural (www.tandfonline.com)
  15. ^ single financial value (www.researchgate.net)
  16. ^ misrepresented (www.policyforum.net)

Authors: George Denny-Smith, Scientia PhD Researcher, Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW

Read more https://theconversation.com/why-we-arent-closing-the-gap-a-failure-to-account-for-cultural-counterfactuals-129076

Digital Agency

Business Daily Media Business Development

Accor and Visa form global partnership

Accor, a world-leading hospitality group, and Visa (V: NYSE), the global leader in digital payments, yesterday (the 18th of February) announced a global partnership to bring new payment expe...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Cruise Guru Celebrates CLIA Award Win with Offer for Australian Travellers

Leading Australian cruise agency, Cruise Guru, has been named ‘2019 Online Cruise Agency of the Year’ at the 19th Annual Cruise Industry Awards hosted by Cruise Lines International Associati...

Rhea D'souza - avatar Rhea D'souza

Exciting Things About Sydney

Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities that boasts a population of over 4 million people. It is a city that is famous for its picturesque views, multicultural people, superb weather, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Accor announces new partnership with Grab to help members Live Limitless

Accor has announced a new strategic partnership between its new lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless and South East Asia’s leading super app, Grab. The deal brings toget...

Accor Pacific - avatar Accor Pacific

Upgrading to Deep Pocket Sheets

So, you have this amazingly comfortable bed that has a built-in topper and you are struggling to find the right bedding. You need to look for a sheet called deep pocket sheets or mega fi...

News Company - avatar News Company

Food you need to try in Beijing

Beijing is a beautiful and interesting destination for any kind of traveler. However, foodies will find a new heaven and will be able to try out tasty, flavorful and sometimes very special...

News Company - avatar News Company

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull