NIAA defends use of ‘misleadingly positive’ Deloitte report in Senate investigation

The first hearing in a Senate inquiry into missing and murdered First Nations women and children was held on Wednesday, with representatives from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the National Agency for Indigenous Australians ( NIAA) and the Attorney General’s Department.

During the NIAA’s opening statement, the group’s director, Ben Burdon, acknowledged grief over the loss of murdered First Nations women and children, thanking the committee for allowing the agency to appear. That day.

Senator Lidia Thorpe asked officials where the data sharing issues lie, Esther Bogaart, first assistant secretary in the First Nations Policy and Justice Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General, said the ministry is dependent on the data from state and territory agencies.

“My understanding of the work we’re doing with AFP on national missing persons data, as well as AIC on the national homicide surveillance program, is that they’re very dependent on state and territory information.” , Bogaart said.

“So it’s always [about] get that information on time, get it consistently.

Thorpe also asked if further community consultation would take place, following a 2018 review of the implementation of the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody by Deloitte of the impact of the royal commission, which the senator called a “desk review”.

The NIAA families and director of the strategic branch, Ursula Carolyn, told the committee that the report was available for public review.

“You can go through this report and see what was achieved and what was not completed or implemented,” Carolyn said.

“In terms of further review of the findings of the royal commission, the Justice Policy Partnership is not conducting a formal review as such, it is not reviewing each of the 339 recommendations.”

Senator David Shoebridge further urged NIAA witnesses to mention the Deloitte report in his response, asking whether the NIAA agreed with criticisms that the report was “misleadingly positive”.

“There is a lot of work to do. And that’s what we focus on,” Burdon replied.

When pressed further by Shoebridge, Burdon admitted that the results of the royal commission had not been achieved.

“This is something the government takes very, very seriously and has made a series of commitments to continue working on it,” the group’s official said.

“It surely starts with not referencing a false positive report, which was created without any reference to First Nations communities,” Shoebridge told Burdon.

“It starts with not referring to it in response to questions from a Senate committee on deaths in custody. You can’t start with the Deloitte report.

Burdon said he disagreed with the senator on those comments.

“I do not accept that we are extremely positive. It was an independent review that was done and these are the findings of the review,” Carolyn added when asked by Shoebridge.

“We are simply expressing what this review has found. But as I said, again, the expected results of the royal commission, it is agreed that they have not been achieved.

Senator Nita Green also asked how the NIAA talks to its Canadian counterparts, and Carolyn said the agency has been in regular communication.

“We have regular officials-level discussions with our Canadian counterparts,” Carolyn said.

“And we worked with them just to better understand their report and their recommendations to inform our policy work more broadly in Family Safety.”

In Canada, a 2019 report revealed that the Canadian state had committed genocide against Indigenous peoples, with a mass grave of 215 children found in a former boarding school. by The conversation.

The hearing was due to continue for the rest of Wednesday, with witnesses from AFP, the Department of Social Services and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council due to appear in the afternoon.

Submissions to the committee are always open and close by November 11, 2022. Submissions can be written materials, an audio or video file, or an artwork.

“We have an inquiry where Indigenous people will be able to speak in language, use art forms, use poetry, use song and use dance to tell their story,” Thorpe said in August. when the investigation was announced.

The commission’s report is expected by July 31, 2023.


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