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Appendix 5 - Overview of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery: Social Justice Report 2010

Social Justice Report 2010

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Appendix 5: Overview of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote
Service Delivery

1. Overview

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement
for Remote Service Delivery came into effect in January 2009 and will run to 30
June 2014. It is a joint commitment by all Australian governments to a
‘concentrated and accelerated approach to tackle deep-seated
disadvantage’ in remote
communities.[1] The Partnership is
premised on a place-based initiative, targeting 29 remote priority locations
across Australia for a whole-of-government approach to service delivery. [2]

The Remote Service Delivery Partnership is geared at developing ‘new
ways’ of working with each priority community, with a focus on
‘getting things right’. It is to be underpinned by creating strong
partnerships with local Indigenous communities and strict accountabilities for
all players.[3] A government office,
which acts as the single government interface, has been established in each
priority community to achieve these aims. Local Implementation Plans for each
priority location will be developed working with the communities. These Plans
are supplemented by audits to identify gaps in infrastructure and service
delivery.[4]

Intended benefits from the Remote Service Delivery Partnership include:

  • improved outcomes through improved access to health, education, employment
    and other services in remote areas
  • revitalised Indigenous organisations with capacity to assist individuals and
    families to engage with all the opportunities associated with a better serviced
    region
  • greater economic opportunities (business investment and home ownership) as a
    result of resolution of land tenure and land administration issues
  • over time, a reduced reliance on government transfer payments by individuals
    in remote
    communities.[5]

In total,
$291.2 million is invested in the Remote Service Delivery Partnership. The
Australian Government is providing $187.7 million and the remaining $103.4
million is from the states and
territories.[6]

2. Single government interface

The Remote Service Delivery Partnership is structured as a place-based
approach to service delivery. This means investment is focused on a location
rather than specific programs. Current evidence indicates that place-based
initiatives can effectively facilitate holistic approaches for addressing
community disadvantage.[7] Nevertheless, the COAG trials indicate that the success of place-based
initiatives is contingent on other factors including:

  • clearly identifiable Indigenous representative leadership
  • governments playing an enabling or facilitating role across all levels of
    government and
    community.[8]

The single
government office in each priority location coordinates local implementation
planning processes (discussed below).

Six strategically located Regional Operation Centres provide support for the
priority locations.[9] The Regional
Operations Centres works with government agencies across all levels of
government and form part of the whole-of-government
interface.[10] Fitzroy Crossing,
Adyaloon, Beagle Bay and Halls Creek are supported by the Broome Regional
Operations Centre.

This single government office is the conduit for creating strong partnerships
between government and priority communities. Two types of government employee
will work out of these offices’:

  • Local Area Coordinator (also known as Government Business Manger)
  • Indigenous Engagement Officer.

These staff will live and work
in the community.

The Local Area Coordinators are appointed to function as the direct link
between community and government. They:

  • are the key liaison and consultation point in communities
  • work collaboratively with other government representatives
  • assist with community planning and agreement making
  • ensure that services are coordinated on the ground
  • report on progress and on local issues and concerns to the local Regional
    Operations Centre and State/Territory Board of
    Management.[11]

The
Indigenous Engagement Officers are Indigenous people recruited from within the
local area, who speak the local language/s. They work with the Local Area
Coordinators in their liaison and engagement work and help to support their
communities as the strategy is rolled
out.[12]

3. Community audits

Comprehensive community audits have been undertaken to effectively implement
the Remote Service Delivery Partnership, and to subsequently measure its impact.
This includes:

  • an audit of municipal and essential services and infrastructure (part of the
    wider National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing)
  • ‘baseline mapping’ of social and economic conditions, existing
    government investments, services and gaps in
    services.[13]

The
‘baseline mapping’ information will be drawn from available
statistical data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and from
state/territory government agencies. This will provide information on the
following indicia:

  • who lives in the area – the number of people and their ages
  • how many people might live in the area in five years time
  • existing facilities, such as schools, clinics, playgrounds, meetings halls
    etc
  • available services in areas such as health, early childhood, schooling and
    aged care
  • community health
  • the number and condition of houses
  • the local economy including
    jobs.[14]

These audits
are a welcome component of the Strategy. They are to provide a sound basis for
strategising about service delivery, developing local priorities and assist in
monitoring the impacts of the Partnership. Mapping and benchmarking policy
outcomes is consistent with human rights
standards.[15] Informed decisions
rely on the collection of reliable data on the real effectiveness of development
programs.[16]

4. Local Implementation
Plans

Local Implementation Plans are a central component of the Remote Service
Delivery Partnership. These Plans perform two key roles that will underpin the
success of the Partnership:

  • They are the prime mechanism for engagement with local communities.
  • They will outline the key performance indicators and benchmarks to measure
    the performance of the National Partnership Agreement and to hold various
    parties accountable.

The Local Area Coordinator is to work with the local community, informed by the auditing and baseline mapping,
to detail priorities, actions, responsibilities and commitments from the various
partners to the agreement.[17] The
Regional Operations Centre provides extra assistance to the Local Area
Coordinator and the members of the community. These Plans are to establish:

  • community driven priorities and needs
  • the commitments and responsibilities of various governments and their
    agencies to the when, why and how of implementing meeting these needs through
    the provision of services.

Upon completion these Local
Implementation Plans will become public documents.

The Coordinator General suggests that a Local Implementation Plan will be
effective because it ‘forces governments to make their commitments and
timelines public and imposes a discipline on implementation that may not have
been there
previously’.[18]

5. The Office of the
Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services

The Office of the Coordinator General has been established to monitor the
effectiveness of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership and the performance of
Australian Government agencies in meeting their commitments under it. The office
was created by the Australian Government pursuant to the Coordinator-General
for Remote Indigenous Services Act 2009
(Cth).

Each state and territory also has a senior officer to perform functions
similar to the Coordinator General at the state/territory level and these office
holders work with the Coordinator General to further the aims of the
Strategy.[19]

The Coordinator General’s tasks include:

  • oversee the implementation of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership in
    Indigenous communities
  • formally report to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services
    and Indigenous Affairs twice a year on progress, and ensure that all government
    service agencies are held accountable for their implementation responsibilities
    under the Remote Service Delivery Partnership
  • have the authority to work across agencies to cut through bureaucratic
    blockages and red tape, and to make sure services are delivered effectively
  • have a direct line of sight to the whole of government Regional Operations
    Centres established to coordinate services in communities and the single
    government contact points located within the identified priority
    communities. [20]

The
Coordinator General’s primary function is to monitor and oversee the
roll-out of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership.

6. State/territory
implementation plans

The roles and responsibility for each state and territory government is
guided by a Bilateral Implementation Plan between that jurisdiction and the
Australian Government. Although these Plans vary across each jurisdiction they
provide a similar framework outlining the ways governments will work together
and with priority communities.[21]

These implementation plans are designed to delineate the responsibilities and
timelines of the Commonwealth and the relevant state/territory jurisdiction and
facilitate a clear whole-of-government coordinated approach to service
delivery.

7. Boards of Management

A Remote Service Delivery Board of Management, comprising of senior officers
from both the Australian Government and the relevant state/territory, has been
created in each state/territory to oversee the roll-out of the Remote Service
Delivery Partnership.[22]

The Board of Management meets every four weeks to support the single
government interface (both the Regional Operations Centres and locally-based
staff). These meetings include monitoring implementation progress and, where
necessary, expediting service delivery
issues.[23]

^Top


[1] The Hon J Gillard MP, Deputy
Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Minister for Workplace Relations, The
Hon J Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and
Indigenous Affairs, The Hon N Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing, The Hon
R McClelland MP, Attorney General, Senator The Hon M Arbib, Minister for
Employment Participation, The Hon P Garrett MP, Minister for Environment
Protection, Heritage and the Arts, The Hon W Snowden MP, Minister for Indigenous
Health, Rural and Regional Health & Regional Services Delivery,
‘Closing the Gap – Strengthening Indigenous Communities’
(Joint media release, 11 May 2010). At http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/jennymacklin.nsf/content/closing_the_gap_11may10.htm (viewed 12 May 2010).
[2] The 29
locations were determined using the principles outlined in the Schedules A and B
of the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement. This criteria
based selection included:

  • significant concentration of population;
  • anticipated demographic trends and pressures;
  • the potential for economic development and employment;
  • the extent of pre-existing shortfalls in government investment in
    infrastructure and services; and
  • where possible, investment will also build on other significant investment
    already in progress.

Applying this criteria the following locations
were identified as priority locations for the initial wave of investment:

  • NT: Angurugu, Galiwin’ku, Gapuwiyak, Gunbalanya, Hermannsburg,
    Lajamanu, Maningrida, Milingimbi, Nguiu, Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Umbakumba, Wadeye,
    Yirrkala and Yuendumu
  • Qld: Mornington Island, Doomadgee, Hope Vale, Aurukun, Mossman Gorge and
    Coen
  • NSW: Walgett and Wilcannia
  • SA: Amata and Mimili
  • WA: Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek,
    Ardyaloon and Beagle Bay

[3] Office
of the Coordinator General of Remote Service Delivery, Frequently Asked
Questions
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/faq.asp (viewed 10 May 2010).
[4] Office of
the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, What is Remote
Service Delivery
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/rsd.asp (viewed 28 April 2010).
[5] Council
of Australian Governments, Communiqué - 29 November 2009 (2009). At http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2008-11-29/index.cfm (viewed 28 April 2010).
[6] Council
of Australian Governments, National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service
Delivery
, http://www.coag.gov.au/intergov_agreements/federal_financial_relations/docs/national_partnership/national_partnership_on_remote_service_delivery_with_amended_schedule.pdf (viewed 28 April 2010).
[7] Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board, Report of the Northern
Territory Review Board
, Attorney-General’s Department (2008), p 11. At http://www.nterreview.gov.au/docs/report_nter_review.PDF (viewed 28 April 2010); Morgan, Disney and Associates Pty Ltd with Tracey
Whetnall Consulting and Wis-Wei Consulting Pty Ltd, Synopsis Review of the
COAG Trial Evaluations
, Report to OPIC, Canberra (2006). At http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/evaluation/coag_trial_site_reports/overiew/Documents/COAG_Trials_Overview.pdf (viewed at 4 June 2010).
[8] Morgan, Disney and Associates Pty Ltd with Tracey Whetnall Consulting and
Wis-Wei Consulting Pty Ltd, Synopsis Review of the COAG Trial Evaluations (2006) p 5. At http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/evaluation/coag_trial_site_reports/overiew/Documents/COAG_Trials_Overview.pdf (viewed at 4 June 2010).
[9] These
six Regional Operations Centres are: Darwin, NT, Cairns, Mount Isa, Qld, Broome,
WA, Adelaide, SA, Dubbo,
NSW.
[10] Department of Families,
Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, The Remote Service
Delivery single government interface
, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/single_gov.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[11] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, The Remote Service Delivery single government interface, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/single_gov.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[12] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, The Remote Service Delivery single government interface, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/single_gov.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[13] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Progress on Remote Service Delivery, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/progres_rsd.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[14] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Progress on Remote Service Delivery, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/progres_rsd.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[15] See W
Jonas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2002, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
(2003), ch 4. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport02/index.html (viewed 22 June 2010).
[16] See
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Report of the Workshop on Data
Collection and Disaggregation for Indigenous Peoples
, UN Doc E/C.19/2004/2
(2004), para 11.
[17] Department
of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Progress on
Remote Service Delivery
, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/families/RSD_NPA/Pages/progres_rsd.aspx (viewed 10 May 2010).
[18] Office
of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Service Delivery, Project
Management and Local Implementation Planning The Coordinator General’s
view
, http://www.cgris.gov.au/site/newsarticle_1.asp (viewed 10 May 2010).
[19] Office
of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Service Delivery, Frequently
Asked Questions
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/faq.asp (viewed 7 September 2010).
[20] Office of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Role of the
Coordinator General
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/role.asp (viewed 29 April 2010).
[21] Office of the Coordinator General of Remote Service Delivery, What is Remote
Service Delivery
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/rsd.asp (viewed 10 May
2010).
[22] Office of the
Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Frequently Asked
Questions
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/faq.asp (viewed 7 September 2010).
[23] Office of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Frequently
Asked Questions
, http://cgris.gov.au/site/faq.asp (viewed 7 September 2010).