Fred Hollows Foundation chief Brian Doolan has echoed the much loved and honoured opthamalogist’s observations that red tape entangled legislation and bureaucracy is NOT the best way to deliver services to remote Aboriginal Australia.
“flexibility and moving decision-making powers from various levels of faraway governments to those on the ground.”
“The Foundation deals effectively with various levels of Australian governments and is primarily involved in health issues (but).. policies involving service delivery to Australia’s remote corners are often set up to empower bureaucracies, not those who needed help…
the ‘honest truth’ is that the capacity of the public service to deliver is ‘limited’…
he tends to agree with Mick Dodson who told John Howard during a reconciliation lunch in Melbourne a few years ago that
“although the public service is often well-meaning, it just cannot deliver on the promises..
In Australia, we work with many inspirational people, key individuals. While we deal effectively with key government departments, we find that we get much better outcomes by empowering key individuals…
Legislation should be used only as a starting point, as regulations often got in the way of results.”
Autonomus organsiations effective in dealing with health issues confronting their communities exist in:
Redfern – Sydney
Broken Hill – NSW
Wilcannia – western NSW
Katherine – NT
Broome – WA
Brian says the Hollows Foundation which has worked with blindness prevention and health bodies throughout Africa, Asia and Australia, has focussed on building relationships with ‘people on the ground’ who know what they are doing, hve drive, energy and a long-term commitment to the problems at hand.
“Relationships are far more important than legislation in countries such as Vietnam…
(and the) realisation that our outcomes are far more important than the processes…
Flexibility is vital and there are lessons in overseas successes. There is a much better mindset in Vietnam, for example, and we often work around those (legislative or regulatory) barriers…
The other key to success in Vietnam is our staff, who are all Vietnamese, who are dealing with their own culture, and understand their own ways and customs. It’s also happening for us in Nepal and Eritrea … these are countries that have emphasised the importance of relationships…
The bureaucracy’s inability to integrate into remote areas is understandable..
It is difficult to retain good staff in the outback. And there are ‘so many cultural considerations’ complicating those significant issues.
We need a more localised approach. Time and again, it’s what every commission and inquiry has found – we need greater flexibility at the local level and that allows people on the ground to control how they go about things..
This should not be about how good the bureaucracy is, but what the outcomes are.”
Don’t we all want good outcomes to flow from our heard-earned taxes? What value do we place on processes if they don’t produce good outcomes? WHY, WHY, WHY don’t we here in Australia learn from what works elsewhere?
Dr Mark Brophy’s Dialogue to Change has a terrific history of success in Sweden and in the US in building the relationships Brian is talking about here.
All power Mark with his local government and local group partnerships in their efforts to define and implement change in their communities!