Director-General's message

I am pleased to present the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships’ Annual Report for 2017–2018. Queensland is home to two of the world’s oldest living cultures, and we stand with unwavering determination as the only state with a department dedicated to the pursuit of positive life outcomes for, with and alongside our First Australians.

A sense of shared opportunities

I am inspired by the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders who are succeeding at the highest levels of industry, government, politics and service sectors. Increasingly, educational outcomes also continue to improve for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, with the credentialing of Year 12 students matching the overall population.

Now is the opportunity to work smarter and stand stronger in our pursuits to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders to move beyond surviving to thriving.

The department works across the state, including in Queensland’s most remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. While this presents unique challenges, we also recognise that long distances are not a barrier to better outcomes.

This is why in 2017–2018 we progressed the Queensland Government’s commitment to reframe relationships with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve positive outcomes by working collaboratively, and in genuine partnership, with communities.

Our achievements in 2017–2018

Economic participation

Our department is committed to enabling Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate fully in Queensland’s vibrant economic, social and cultural life. Economic participation is a critical component of this agenda. It includes driving the whole-of-government Moving Ahead strategy to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the public sector, supporting economic development opportunities for Traditional Owners, and generating jobs in a strong economy.

During 2017–2018, the department delivered three additional Strategic Partnership Agreements (Memoranda of Understanding) bringing the total to 13 current partnerships designed to improve employment outcomes. The department also supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to thrive through 30 key projects as part of the Enterprise Queensland Indigenous Program (EQuIP).

Throughout the year, we also accomplished other significant milestones including assisting 25 families to achieve home ownership; facilitating a first home ownership outcome in the Torres Strait Islands by providing practical support and resolving longstanding land tenure issues; partnering with local, state and federal government agencies to make available housing lots to support social housing needs and in turn generating 563 construction jobs in discrete and remote communities; and facilitating employment for 86 apprentices and trainees through the Building and Construction Training Policy.

The department was also able to leverage more than $18 million of employment, training and business supply through infrastructure projects; and to transfer more than 103,000 hectares of land to Aboriginal ownership, resulting in an extension of the largest jointly managed national park on Cape York Peninsula, which now covers an area of 373,230 hectares.

Almost $9.5 million in payments to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders were provided through the Queensland Government’s $21 million Reparations Scheme. I would like to extend my thanks to the Reparations Taskforce that was led by Mr Mick Gooda for facilitating this important work.

Community participation

The department continues to support caring and connected communities through initiatives designed to give all our children a great start and keep Queenslanders happy, healthy and safe. Key highlights included the launch of the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2021, including 69 targets and 18 actions towards social, economic and cultural outcomes; the activation of the Celebrating Reconciliation Small Grants Program to provide $300,000 over three years to support annual grassroots reconciliation events; the recruitment of Domestic and Family Violence Senior Project Officers; supporting the implementation of the Aurukun four-point plan; and supporting the Ministerial and Government Champions Program.

Policy reforms

In June 2018, the Queensland Government provided its response to the Queensland Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into service delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. I would like to acknowledge the significant input from Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other stakeholders to this report.

The report outlines reforms and recommendations, many of which align with work already underway across government and our department, to implement place-based, empowering approaches that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes the establishment of Queensland’s first social reinvestment trial in partnership with Yarrabah and Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Councils; the launch of the Queensland Indigenous Procurement Policy; and continuing work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that have Alcohol Management Plans in place and supporting them with the management of alcohol in their communities.

Our people

Our workforce is capable, committed and diverse, with 36.4 per cent of the department’s staff, including at the executive and senior management level, identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

As part of our commitment to improving workplace culture, the department engaged in the whole-of-government Capability Blueprint process to measure our strengths, capabilities and opportunities against the core capabilities of leadership, strategy and delivery. Senior management has considered the Blueprint findings and will soon determine appropriate strategies to enhance both our workplace and service delivery to the community.

As we reflect on recent achievements and look determinedly to the future, I would like to acknowledge and offer my heartfelt thanks to Tammy Williams for her tenacious leadership and effort during her time as Acting Director-General. Tammy demonstrated tremendous professionalism, leadership and compassion and I am very grateful for this.

Our future directions

The Queensland Government has allocated more than $11 million in the 2018–2019 State Budget for the department to deliver positive initiatives identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

We will channel our best efforts, as one department, with collective capability to deliver exceptional outcomes in partnership with our strategic partners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

Dr Chris Sarra