The public value of Aboriginal organisations in the Kimberley region

Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Dr Julie Lahn

The neoliberal turn in public management (often termed ‘New Public Management’) represents one of the biggest policy shifts in government in recent decades, transforming the funding landscape and operational environment for Aboriginal organisations. Successive governments, seeking perceived ‘efficiency’ benefits, have pushed the sector toward a greater market orientation. But this approach has not delivered the outcomes envisaged in large part because of the narrow conceptual framings involved in ideas of efficiency and effectiveness. An alternate approach is urgently required. Utilising aspects of the now well-developed body of public administration theory referred to as ‘public value’ (Moore 1995, Bennington and Moore 2011), we investigate an alternate framing for communicating the character of the public goods produced by four Aboriginal organisations in the west Kimberley region. In this paper we make a case for public administrators to consider the relevance of such a new approach in taking account of a broader diversity of both values and publics when designing policies and programs relating to Aboriginal organisations, and more specifically, in moving towards establishing Aboriginal values and Aboriginal publics at the forefront of Aboriginal policy.