ACIL Allen Consulting commends CEDA for identifying entrenched disadvantage as a key national issue and for commissioning this report. It is an issue that has required serious consideration in many of our reviews for government and non-government agencies over recent years.
The Australian economy is currently experiencing numerous challenges leading to constraints on budget expenditure. It could be argued that times are tough. However, this situation follows more than two decades of economic growth, during which time some groups in our community continued to experience significant disadvantage.
Governments of all persuasions at all levels, universities, community service organisations, their business partners and advisers constantly wrestle with providing a balance of incentives and supports to reduce inequalities for our vulnerable populations in a manner that is financially sustainable. Much effort has been expended developing and implementing strong economic and social policies to this end.
It is clear that something needs to change if we are to address entrenched disadvantage more effectively. This report provides important information to enhance the efforts to do so. The report helps us better understand the nature of the problem, providing insights into:
- The importance of early intervention
- The importance of local and customised input into design of services, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
- The need for life-course strategies to support people at various times in their lives.
More work and better data are required, and ACIL Allen Consulting is taking steps to extend the dialogue with leaders in business, governments and the community sector, and to identify concrete actions that build on the evidence provided through reports like this to address entrenched disadvantage. Our Health and Human Services practice is undertaking the collection of additional data and targeted analysis to help inform future decision-making in this area. And we should address it. Not only for the compelling economic reasons, but because as a civil society and as a ‘rich’ country, it is not acceptable that some groups of people are consistently and persistently unable to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from this wealth.