Lack of information, huge sums of money and constant assurances that all is going according to the latest plan ... regular visitors to this website will not be unfamiliar with these issues and how often they arise in Indigenous Australia. The money, and how it is used, is important and this short article opens the lid of what is a very large can of worms.
This past October, Olga Havnen, the Northern Territory Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, released her annual report. The response of the NT Government was to sack her. It's her story to tell the reasons why. What is clear from her report is that Olga doggedly asked government departments what proportion of their budget was taken up by administrative overheads. Her requests were "met with a reluctance to comply and, in some instances, outright hostility."
Olga is not the first to ask the question of government. Mid 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ordered a Strategic Review of Indigenous Expenditure, and the Department of Finance commissioned Neil Johnston, former Secretary of Veteran Affairs, to lead it. The final report was initially buried but then released under Freedom of Information laws. When Johnston asked the same question, most departments declined to respond.