1370.0.00.002 - Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress , 2011-12  
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Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
Please note: While COAG is technically an agency that sits across all levels of government (federal, state, territory and local), it has been included in this chapter for practical reasons.

COAG is an intergovernmental forum that, among other things, develops and monitors policy reforms. The overarching objective of COAG is to improve the well-being of Australians now and into the future. It does this through implementing a reform agenda designed to support the cooperation between federal and state governments and departments that policy reform can often require.

The agenda focuses on five themes of strategic importance:

  • A long term strategy for economic and social participation;
  • A national economy driven by our competitive advantages;
  • A more sustainable and liveable Australia;
  • Better health services and a more sustainable health system for all Australians; and
  • Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
These themes are realised through Australian governments and agencies agreeing to take action, and being held accountable for action, on a range of objectives identified in six National Agreements. While these objectives are more specific and policy related than the broad aspirations collected in the MAP consultation, they give an indication of priority areas of government and community interest.

Objectives of selected COAG National Agreements

National Healthcare AgreementNational Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development AgreementNational Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap)
Australians are born and remain healthy
Australians receive appropriate high quality and affordable primary and community health services
Australians receive appropriate high quality and affordable hospital and hospital-related care
Older Australians receive appropriate high quality and affordable health and aged care services
Australians have positive health and aged care experiences which take account of individual circumstances and care needs
Australia’s health system promotes social inclusion and reduces disadvantage, especially for Indigenous Australians
Australians have a sustainable health system
All working aged Australians have the opportunity to develop the skills and qualifications needed, including through a responsive training system, to enable them to be effective participants in and contributors to the modern labour market
Individuals are assisted to overcome barriers to education, training and employment, and are motivated to acquire and utilise new skills
Australian industry and business develop, harness and utilise the skills and abilities of the workforce
Closing the life expectancy gap within a generation
Halving the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade
Ensure all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities have access to early childhood education within five years.
Halving the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade
Halving the gap for Indigenous people aged 20-24 in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020.
Halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade

National Disability AgreementNational Education Agreement National Affordable Housing Agreement
People with disabilities and their carers have an enhanced quality of life and participate as valued members of the communityAll Australian school students acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society and employment in a globalised economyAll Australians have access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing that contributes to social and economic participation

Treasury Wellbeing Framework

At its core, the mission of the Australian Treasury is to improve the well-being of the Australian people. The Treasury does this by providing objective and thorough analysis of options in its advice to government, and by assisting the Treasury ministers to administer their responsibilities and implement Government decisions.

Treasury takes a broad view of well-being as primarily reflecting a person’s substantive freedom to lead a life they have reason to value. This view encompasses more than is directly captured by commonly used measures of economic activity. It gives prominence to respecting the informed preferences of individuals, while allowing scope for broader social actions and choices. It is open to both subjective and objective notions of well-being, and to concerns for outcomes and consequences as well as for rights and liberties.

The ‘Treasury well-being framework’ operates to facilitate an objective and thorough analysis of options for improving well-being. It identifies five dimensions that directly or indirectly have important implications for well-being, and are particularly relevant to Treasury. The five dimensions of the Framework are:
  • The set of opportunities available to people. This includes not only the level of goods and services that can be consumed, but good health and environmental amenity, leisure and intangibles such as personal and social activities, community participation and political rights and freedoms.
  • The distribution of those opportunities across the Australian people. In particular, that all Australians have the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life and participate meaningfully in society.
  • The sustainability of those opportunities available over time. In particular, consideration of whether the productive base needed to generate opportunities (the total stock of capital, including human, physical, social and natural assets) is maintained or enhanced for current and future generations.
  • The overall level and allocation of risk borne by individuals and the community. This includes a concern for the ability, and inability, of individuals to manage the level and nature of the risks they face.
  • The complexity of the choices facing individuals and the community. Our concerns include the costs of dealing with unwanted complexity, the transparency of government and the ability of individuals and the community to make choices and trade-offs that better match their preferences.
State of Australian Cities – Department of Infrastructure and Transport

Produced by the Major Cities Unit in the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the ‘State of Australian cities’ report brings together data and information across social, economic and environmental parameters to provide an overview of Australian cities with populations over 100,000 people (see Infrastructure Australia 2010).The report highlights emerging trends and issues to promote discussion on managing growth and other change in major urban centres, and allows Australian cities to be compared with each other and internationally. It provides an evidence base to support the national urban policy released in the Department’s ‘Our cities, our future’ (Department of Infrastructure and Transport 2011), which sets out steps to make Australian cities better places to live and work. The report looks at the health of Australia’s major cities in relation to a number of major topics: population and settlement; productivity; sustainability; liveability; and lastly, governance.

State of the Environment Report – Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The ‘State of the environment report’ (SoE) is produced by DSEWPaC to provide accurate and up-to-date information on environmental issues to raise public awareness and support decision makers. The intent is to capture and present key information on the state of the environment in terms of:
  • the current condition of the environment;
  • pressure on the environment;
  • drivers of those pressures;
  • management actions to address environmental concerns;
  • remaining risks; and
  • outlooks for the future.
The SoE 2011 report adopts a report card style approach to assessing the condition, pressures and management of the Australian environment, and covers nine themes in addition to a chapter on drivers:

inland water
Antarctic biodiversity
built environment

Sustainable Population Strategy – Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

‘A sustainable Australia is a nation of sustainable communities which have the services, job and education opportunities, affordable housing, amenity and natural environment that make them places where people want to work, live and build a future.’

Sustainable Australia – sustainable communities: a sustainable population strategy for Australia’ was one of the key initiatives of the Australian government’s 2011-2012 budget commitment to build a sustainable Australia, led by DSEWPaC.The Strategy defines a vision for sustainable communities as those which have the right mix of services, job and education opportunities, affordable housing, amenity and natural environment, making them places where people want to live, work and build a future. It aims to maintain and improve the well-being of current and future generations through encouraging more effective anticipation, planning and responses by all levels of government to the impacts of population changes on our economy, communities and the environment. Across government, a number of initiatives under the Strategy are underway. DSEWPaC has responsibility for the Suburban Jobs, Sustainable Regional Development and Measuring Sustainability (see below) programs.

Measuring Sustainability – Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The ‘Measuring sustainability’ program is one of the measures put in place to support implementation of the government’s Sustainable Population Strategy. It is aimed at improving information on Australia’s sustainability, including through the development of a set of sustainability indicators to assist decision-making and planning at national and community levels.

Social Inclusion Principles – Australian Government

‘The Australian Government’s vision of a socially inclusive society is one in which all Australians feel valued and have the opportunity to participate fully in our society.’

The Australian Government is committed to reducing persistent social disadvantage throughout society. The ‘Social inclusion agenda’ was formed to achieve better outcomes for the most disadvantaged people in Australian communities. The agenda was developed by the Australian Social Inclusion Board and was established in May 2008 as the main advisory body to Government on ways to achieve better outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our community. The government adopted a set of principles to guide the agenda and policy, which includes aspirations – what is hoped will be achieved – and approaches – ways to help get there.

  • reducing disadvantage;
  • increasing social, civic and economic participation; and
  • developing a greater voice, combined with greater responsibility.
  • building on individual and community strengths;
  • building partnerships with key stakeholders;
  • developing tailored services;
  • giving a high priority to early intervention and prevention;
  • building joined-up services and whole of government solutions;
  • using evidence and integrated data to inform policy;
  • using locational approaches; and
  • planning for sustainability.
The publication ‘A stronger, fairer Australia’ (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2012a) sets out the social inclusion vision and includes a policy framework built on five pillars:
  1. Economic growth – maintaining a strong, internationally competitive economy to secure jobs for the future and create opportunity for all.
  2. Equitable social policy – creating the opportunities and resources that every Australian needs to participate in the economy and community life through education, skills training, employment strategies, incentives for entering the workforce, and providing adequate income support when people need it.
  3. Quality services – delivering world class services that meet the needs of every Australian in crucial areas like education and training, health, housing, and social support, and targeting extra support to the communities where it can do the most good, most notably disadvantaged Indigenous communities.
  4. Strong families and communities – supporting families and building strong and cohesive communities through better family services that build capabilities and by improving community infrastructure.
  5. Partnership for change – building new and innovative partnerships with all sectors of the economy by creating joined-up government and getting government, businesses and not-for-profit organisations working together to build stronger communities and create new opportunities for disadvantaged people.
Achieving the social inclusion vision would mean all Australians would have the resources, opportunities and capability to learn, work, engage with people, and have a voice in decision-making. The annual report ‘Social inclusion in Australia: how Australia is faring’ (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2012b) is complemented by a compendium of indicators, which demonstrate progress towards social inclusion across many domains.