Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Regional Partnership Agreement

This is an agreement between the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC), the Australian Government, the Northern Territory Government, the East Arnhem Shire Council (EASC) and the Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO) to work together to improve conditions for Indigenous people living in the Anindilyakwa region. The Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) addresses locally identified priorities and works towards sustainable and measurable outcomes. It is also a commitment to improve coordination, work more closely with local people and organisations to implement services and programs, and to develop innovative solutions to key issues.

The RPA was initiated by the traditional owners, who put forward their concerns and ideas for action. Local Aboriginal people have since driven the development and implementation of the RPA through the Anindilyakwa Land Council. The RPA and all funded projects have been negotiated with the ALC following community consultation. Individual projects also emphasise the need for local engagement at all stages.

The Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island RPA Stage One was signed on 20 May 2008 by the ALC, the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Government. The Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Regional Partnership Agreement Stage Two was signed by the original parties, plus GEMCO and the EASC, on 10 November 2009.

The RPA covers the Anindilyakwa region which is located on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory and comprises Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island. The communities on these islands are Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.

Funding

The total financial commitment to implement both stages of the RPA exceeds $80 million. This includes up to $14 million in royalty equivalent income from the ALC, as well as Australian Government and NT Government contributions.

Priorities

The RPA parties have agreed to work together on the following priorities:

  • Improve housing outcomes including facilitating the transition from community housing to home ownership, improved public housing and expand commercial development;
  • Improve health service delivery, including enhancing access and availability of services and developing region-specific health interventions;
  • Improve educational outcomes across the region from early childhood to adult education and training;
  • Improve employment outcomes, including increasing rates of Indigenous people entering and remaining in long-term, meaningful employment;
  • Enhance opportunities for business and enterprise development in the region;
  • Enhance community safety, including reducing substance abuse and increasing police presence;
  • Improve the capacity of organisations and individuals in the region through the delivery of governance and leadership training with a focus on youth development; and
  • Develop a strong partnership between industry, the community and government that works with Indigenous people locally to generate solutions to complex issues in the region and address obstacles to achieving the objectives of the RPA.

RPA Committee

The RPA is governed by a committee comprising senior officials from each of the parties and is co-chaired by senior representatives of the ALC, the Australian Government and the NT Government. The committee:

  • Provides strategic leadership for the agreement, ensuring a cohesive approach between parties, stakeholders and people living in the region;
  • Agrees on new priorities and areas for joint action, including leading negotiations on additional schedules to the agreement;
  • Is advised and consulted about any new initiatives the parties propose to undertake that may impact the operation of this agreement;
  • Oversees the implementation and performance management of the agreement, including:
    • monitoring progress of projects contained in the schedules;
    • analysing performance reports;
    • ensuring that better outcomes are being delivered through the regional partnership approach; and
  • Solves any problems and seeks to address any lack of progress on implementation.

Meeting quarterly in Darwin and on Groote Eylandt, the RPA committee is comprised of the following members.

RPA committee members
Position Organisation
Chief Executive Northern Territory Department of Housing, Local Government and Regional Services
Chairperson Anindilyakwa Land Council
NT State Manager Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Chief Executive Officer Anindilyakwa Land Council
NT State Manager Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Executive Director, Township Leasing Office of Township Leasing
Head, School Education and Training Operations Northern Territory Department of Education
General Manager Groote Eylandt Mining Company
Chief Executive Officer East Arnhem Shire Council
President East Arnhem Shire Council

Local Implementation Plans

The parties have also developed Local Implementation Plans for the two main communities in the Anindilyakwa region:

These plans restate commitments in the RPA and provide a focus on the two major communities affected.

Achievements to December 2010

Most Stage One projects were completed within the first 18 months of the agreement and informal feedback on project implementation has been very positive. The following is a list of the major achievements in implementation of the RPA from May 2008 to December 2010.

Planning and Infrastructure

  • The Community Clean Up Program was delivered, completing minor repairs on community buildings.
  • Township leases have been signed over Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra, providing economic development and home ownership opportunities and rationalising land tenure arrangements.
  • Area plans for the three communities have been finalised.

Healthy Homes

  • A local construction company, Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Enterprises (GEBIE) Civil and Construction, has been formed and is providing a key role in major government housing projects.
  • Six new houses have been completed under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP), with 15 underway.
  • Thirty-eight refurbishments and rebuilds have been completed under the SIHIP.
  • The Fixing Houses for Better Health Program completed functional repairs on all community houses in Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.
  • Indigenous Business Australia is delivering a home ownership program, supported by money management services.
  • Schedule C to the RPA, ensuring a partnership approach to the rollout of the SIHIP was signed by the relevant parties.

Early Childhood

  • Communities for Children playgroups are operating at Umbakumba and Milyakburra through Anglicare.
  • A coordinator has been employed for the Angurugu women's centre, providing a hub for activities and programs for families.
  • Families as First Teachers and Indigenous Parenting Support Services are operating to assist parents.
  • The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation is providing evidence based early literacy and numeracy programs.

Schooling

  • Eight new teacher houses are underway in Umbakumba so teachers do not have to travel from Alyangula.
  • A comprehensive review of the education system on Groote Eylandt has been completed and submitted to the Australian and NT Governments.
  • The Anindilyakwa Education and Training Board has been established to drive the reforms in education, comprising members from each community.

Economic Participation

  • Funding of $5.5 million has been announced for three Trade Training Centres on Groote Eylandt.
  • The SIHIP is surpassing its targets for Indigenous employment in housing construction.
  • The GEBIE Job Shop has been established and currently has a major employment services contract from government, with 281 people placed in employment so far.
  • An Economic Development Officer has been funded and is working on Groote Eylandt to get more local people into jobs.
  • An Economic Development and Employment Strategy has been completed, providing a five year vision for the future of the region, and stakeholders are working together to implement recommendations.

Leadership and Governance

  • A Governance Development Plan for GEBIE and ALC is under development.
  • Two leadership workshops have been delivered at Groote Eylandt and more are planned.

Safe Communities

  • A new office and accommodation facility for visiting police has been established at Umbakumba.
  • A Tasking and Coordination Group has been established, involving the community and key stakeholders in problem solving around policing.
  • Safe places have been established for men and women at Angurugu.
  • A consultant has been engaged to complete a Substance Misuse Strategy for the Anindilyakwa region during 2011.
  • A Community Safety Plan has been completed.
  • Police are using sniffer dogs to check routes to Groote Eylandt from Darwin and visit the region at least four times per year to limit the supply of illicit substances.

Health

  • A wheelchair lift and pool hoist has been installed at Alyangula pool for Machado Joseph Disease (MJD) clients and others to access hydrotherapy.
  • The designs for a new health clinic in Umbakumba are being completed and a suitable site has been identified.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding in relation to MJD has been signed between the ALC, the NT Government, FaHCSIA and the EASC. This will better coordinate services and support for MJD clients and has resulted in an MJD Coordinator being appointed within the NT Government.
  • The MJD Foundation has been established, with almost $9 million in grants announced by the Australian Government and the ALC, together with private sponsorship including from GEMCO.

Youth, Sport and Recreation

  • Funding for infrastructure upgrades at Angurugu and Umbakumba has been provided for the Umbakumba oval, basketball courts and Angurugu recreation hall.
  • A new AFL program has established a senior league and school attendance program under the oversight of a Committee of local people.
  • A women's basketball program has been funded in Umbakumba and Angurugu.
  • A Youth Strategy for the Anindilyakwa region has been completed, with parties now considering its recommendations. This process has resulted in stronger links between youth services providers in the region.
  • The community has purchased a bus for transportation of AFL players to local league games.

Supporting the Partnership

  • The RPA Committee has been established.
  • The RPA Stage 2 was signed in November 2009.
  • Community Baseline Profiles have been developed for Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.
  • Indigenous Engagement Officers and Government Business Managers are working to coordinate services in Angurugu and Umbakumba.
  • Schedule D to the RPA, outlining how the Remote Service Delivery (RSD) strategy will operate within the RPA framework, has been agreed and signed.
  • Local Implementation Plans have been signed, aligning the RPA with the RSD strategy.
  • Local Reference Groups have been established in Angurugu and Umbakumba.

Activities Planned for 2011 - 2012

The Stage Two RPA contains over 60 discrete projects. The major activities planned for the next two years are listed below. Planning for many of these activities is well underway.

An independent evaluation of the RPA will also occur during the first six months of 2011. 

Planning and Infrastructure

  • Commence a $20 million project to seal the road between Angurugu and Umbakumba to maximise local employment and other benefits.
  • Finalise subleases for lots under the township leases.
  • Open a quarry operated by GEBIE to create jobs for local Indigenous people.
  • Build government accommodation for staff to live where they work and provide an economic return to communities.
  • Upgrade the Rowell Highway.

Healthy Homes

  • Complete 62 more new houses for a total of 80 across Angurugu (60), Umbakumba (18) and Milyakburra (2).
  • Complete at least 40 more refurbishments and rebuilds (75 minimum across Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra).
  • Complete painting of all community houses in Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.
  • Issue home loans to people with the capacity and interest to buy their own home.

Early Childhood

  • Build a new crèche in Umbakumba.
  • Continue to improve service delivery quality and coordination across early childhood providers.

Schooling

  • Start to build staff housing so teachers and other professionals can live in Angurugu.
  • Ensure the Anindlyakwa Education and Training Board is working well with members from each community.
  • Address the recommendations of Education Review.

Economic Participation

  • Build a $2 million Threatened Species Research and Education Facility.
  • Plan construction activities so that GEBIE Civil and Construction and Aminjarrinja Enterprises can train and employ more local people.
  • Set up more local businesses with the help of the Economic Development Officer.
  • Place more people in employment through the GEBIE Job Shop.
  • Continue to exceed 20 percent Indigenous employment in housing construction.

Leadership and Governance

  • Run more leadership workshops at Groote Eylandt and provide opportunities to participate in regional forums.
  • Complete the Governance Development Plan for ALC and GEBIE.

Safe Communities

  • Build a visiting police office in Angurugu and continue regular police visits to Angurugu and Umbakumba.
  • Build cyclone shelters.
  • Complete a substance misuse strategy and implement the recommendations.
  • Police will continue working with local communities through the Tasking and Coordination Group.

Health

  • Construct a new health clinic in Umbakumba.
  • Fluoridate water supplies.
  • Build accommodation at the aged care and respite centre in Angurugu.
  • Complete and action the implementation plan for the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to MJD.
  • Improve the ambulance service.

Youth, Sport and Recreation

  • Build AFL Club Facilities in Angurugu and Umbakumba.
  • Continue the AFL program and engage local trainees to support the league.
  • Continue and improve the women's basketball program.
  • Employ youth workers in Angurugu and Umbakumba.
  • Complete the Youth Strategy and implement agreed recommendations.

Supporting the Partnership

  • Complete the Indigenous household population survey and update the baseline mapping.
  • Strengthen the Local Reference Groups created under the RSD process.
  • Develop a refreshed community engagement plan, linked to RSD.
  • Complete RPA evaluation and apply lessons learned.

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