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Activity 5 - Enhancing regional governance and local decision making.

Intended result

Develop a national framework for local and regional decision making and governance and establish additional Empowered Communities or other regional model sites.

Performance

measure

Delivery of the national framework within the announced timeframes.

Methodology

Assessment against timeframe.

Target

Models for consultation are developed.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, Page 11.

Performance

result

Partially achieved

Process supported in line with revised timeframes for an Indigenous voice co-design process.

Analysis

The NIAA has continued to work in partnership with communities to support local or regional decision making arrangements including the nine Empowered Communities regions as well as the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are at the centre of decisions affecting their families and communities. Empowered Communities has

expanded to nine regions in 2020 to include the far west coast of South Australia.

The NIAA has been supporting the co-design process for an Indigenous voice. This includes the development of options for a local and regional voice framework that would support enhanced local decision making and Indigenous regional governance.

The COvID-19 pandemic resulted in Minister Wyatt providing an updated timeframe for the Indigenous voice co-design process on 12 June 2020.

The revised timeframe provides for the delivery of options for government consideration by November 2020, with consultation on proposed options from late 2020 through to early 2021.

Intended result

Participate in state and territory local decision making processes.

Performance

measure

Formal participation in active local decision making (LDM) processes.

Methodology

Assessment of participation data.

Target

The NIAA will seek to formally participate in 80 per cent of LDM processes.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, Page 11.

Performance

result

Achieved

The NIAA formally participated in the development and implementation of LDM processes in 100 per cent of LDM sites in the Northern Territory and New South Wales where the NIAA has been invited to contribute.

Analysis

In 2019–20, NIAA formally supported/participated in active LDM processes in all LDM sites across the five regions in the Northern Territory (NT) with LDM processes, and in all LDM sites in New South Wales (NSW). NIAA’s participation varied in each jurisdiction and community/region, reflecting the local context, community aspirations and NIAA’s role.

The NIAA participated in all LDM processes for long term agreements with Aboriginal communities in the NT. The NIAA became a signatory to the Yolngu Region LDM Partnership Commitment and staff participated in all meetings convened by the NT Government to develop the LDM Agreement. While not a signatory to the Groote Archipelago LDM Agreement, the NIAA participated in all LDM meetings convened by the NT Government to implement the Agreement. The NIAA participated in other LDM discussions including meetings of a governance table to implement the $78 million Barkly Regional Deal and working with the Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation to support LDM negotiations. The NIAA worked with key stakeholders to deliver priorities from existing Multi Agency Partnership (MAP) Agreements and supported final negotiations to sign a MAP Statement of Commitment for Tiwi Islands.

The NIAA works within six established LDM groups (regional alliances) in NSW and participates in these groups by invitation. NIAA staff supported LDM groups to achieve outcomes in areas such as health, education, economic development, social justice, youth, and culture. For example, with the NIAA’s assistance, the Barang Regional Alliance successfully procured seed funding through the NSW Government to establish the Community hubs concept on the Central Coast, which aligns with their alliance’s empowered youth regional development agenda. The NIAA also worked closely with organisations that are part of the alliance in Illawarra to support LDM planning priorities.

Intended result

Improved partnerships with communities through place based practice.

Performance

measure

Development of Place Based Practice Implementation Plans in partnership with communities.

Methodology

Annual evaluation of implementation data against timeframe.

Target

June 2020.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, Page 11.

Performance

result

Partially achieved

The NIAA cooperated closely with communities to develop and implement action plans to support local aspirations and priorities in these places.

Analysis

Our experience has demonstrated communities’ preference to work through a place-based approach, where community interests and decision making are central to the process. The ongoing development of existing, and establishment of new governance frameworks, such as LDM and Empowered Communities has provided a mechanism for communities, community-controlled organisations and other stakeholders to partner with government and develop strategies which include community aspirations.

The NIAA delivered a range of place-based activities across its 12 Regions in 2019–20 through partnerships with communities and co-design practices. This work has incorporated multiple dimensions — at the local, regional and national

levels — particularly in terms of service design and improvement. This included strengthening community and organisational governance; creating economic development opportunities with a focus on major infrastructure projects and labour market demands; supporting Indigenous-controlled organisations and businesses; the design of local services; opportunities for collaboration between communities, government and industry sectors; and developing early years and youth strategies. The NIAA’s place-based activities also included co-design and delivery of strategies and tailored responses in place to improve remote school attendance, prevent youth suicide and workforce development. The NIAA’s partnerships with community in place continued to support Empowered Communities Regions and more recently, support local responses to bushfires and COvID-19.

More than 30 Place Based Practice implementation plans are in development across urban, regional and remote locations — informed by community views on issues and solutions, data and evidence to support implementing community priorities and co-design activities. The NIAA achievement against this measure was impacted by COvID-19 events. Our stakeholder engagement has been adjusted to adhere to biosecurity measures, and the NIAA’s resources were

mobilised to ensure critical needs were being addressed. As a result, place-based planning work on some community priorities have been put on hold and will be reviewed during the COvID-19 recovery period.

Case Study - Empowered Communities responding to COVID-19

The Indigenous led Empowered Communities initiative, in partnership with Australian Government, drives the changes needed across three key policy agendas — Empowerment, productivity and Closing the Gap to improve outcomes for Indigenous people in their regions.

Empowered Communities backbone organisations in the East Kimberley, Inner Sydney and the Goulburn-Murray region responded quickly to their communities during the COVID-19 restrictions. They adapted from their usual work activities to coordinate local responses such as food and medical supplies and facilitation of critical up-to-date messaging and ensure local coordination in a rapidly changing environment.

In East Kimberley, Binarri-binyja yarawoo worked closely with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service to provide information about the prevention and management of COVID-19. A strategy emerged out of concerns that timely information would not reach the right people during such a critical time. Several different approaches were used to distribute information including a newsletter and social media. The newsletter was distributed widely through local services. Both local and social media proved effective tools in keeping people up to date with emerging health advice.

Inner Sydney developed a Community COVID-19 plan to manage the crisis in both Redfern and La Perouse with a focus on vulnerable people and elders in those communities. In particular, leaders were concerned about the ability of those most vulnerable to obtain necessary resources and also the social and emotional impacts caused by isolation. Resources were coordinated and mobilised to deliver food parcels, provide transport to medical appointments, flu clinics, and facilitate access to mental health and other required medical services.

The joined-up response reinvigorated a sense of community and provided a grass-roots response to this challenging situation. In the early stages, they met twice a day to review plans, take action and ensure any issues were picked up and quickly addressed. Support activities included closing the Elders’ facility to the general public to protect residents; delivering food hampers, and sourcing flu vaccinations.

The NIAA, as a key government partner with Empowered Communities, supported each of these responses to the COVID-19 restrictions. Locally they were able to work with other government agencies on resolution of issues and ensure the timely flow of information.

Case Study - Response to bushfires and COVID-19

The NIAA also contributed to strengthening disaster resilience for communities impacted by bushfires (in North Eastern and South Eastern NSW, East Gippsland and North East Victoria, and Kangaroo Island) and COVID-19. Applying the NIAA’s place-based practice was critical to working in partnership with communities and organisations to gather and share intelligence, coordinate regional and local responses, and ensure targeted supports were in place. Key success factors for developing immediate strategic responses in a rapidly changing environment were strong community relationships, collaborative efforts of all governments, and leveraging bilateral arrangements. This included development of pandemic plans, communication strategies, supporting return to country, monitoring impacts to critical services and supplies and working with providers to re-pivot their services. For example, NIAA convened a COVID-19 response in partnership with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), SA Health, Nganampa Health Council and South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands communities. In response to a request from the Nganampa Health Council, NIAA facilitated and supported an ADF logistician travelling to the APY Lands to assist the community’s COVID-19 planning. This resulted in a report by the ADF outlining recommendations to assist the APY communities should a COVID-19 outbreak occur. The report was also instrumental in informing SA Health’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Aboriginal remote communities and assisted key health agencies in their pandemic planning. The NIAA was instrumental in convening and facilitating a small working group with the key agencies to develop a community consultation framework. The framework assisted ADF in understanding the key local issues and stakeholders, and informed logistical preparation and community consultation to support the pandemic planning process. Since January 2020, the NIAA participated on the South Coast Bush Fires Aboriginal Services Reference Group in rapid response to the Far South Coast NSW bushfires, which enabled vital interagency and community collaboration to quickly gather and share information and inform responses such as pop-up service centres and evacuations.

Six NIAA staff members standing in front of a car wearing NIAA caps.
Batemans Bay Regional Office staff worked closely with colleagues seconded to the South Coast on rotation to assist in the NIAA’s response to the bushfires. (L–R) Ray Smith, Sharda Carpenter, Barbara Lodding, Nellie Johnson, Scott Kneebone, and Bonnie Ross.