17 April 2024

First remote Local Decision Making Agreement signed in Central Australia

| James Day
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Selena Uibo and Linda Burney signing the Local Decision Making Agreement with Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation members around them.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney joined the Members for Arnhem and Gwoja to sign the Local Decision Making agreement with the Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Facebook/Chansey Paech, Gwoja MP.

The first remote Local Decision Making (LDM) agreement for Central Australia has been signed in the Ngurratjuta region, beginning a decade-long plan to support its communities’ housing, education, safety, and family services.

An LDM returns control to Indigenous organisations, so they can determine how to best deliver services for their community and region. The framework has been implemented in other Northern Territory regional communities, but the Ngurratjuta region – west of Alice Springs – is the first in Central Australia.

NT Minister for Local Decision Making Selena Uibo, and Member for Gwoja Chansey Paech, met with leaders from the Ngurratjuta/Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation to finalise the deal. Alongside them was the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, as the agreement was settled in conjunction with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

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Minister Uibo said she was looking forward to seeing the progress Ngurratjuta continues to make as they work together to increase their involvement in supporting the community’s long-term objectives of transitioning services into community control.

“This Agreement with Ngurratjuta will start a journey of independence with determined goals in the areas of housing, essential services, education, youth programs, social services, welfare, and economic development, which are the cornerstones for thriving communities,” the Member for Arnhem said.

Also present at the signing were 10 cultural leaders from the Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Mount Liebig and Wallace Rockhole communities and outstations as the lead point of contact for decision-making.

The Ngurratjuta region identified six priority areas for the agreement, which are:

  • Housing tenancy, maintenance, construction and government employee housing administration
  • Homelands municipal and essential services, housing maintenance services and special purpose grants (outstation specific)
  • Remote jobs, industry and employment/training programs
  • Education attendance, two-way learning and pathways
  • Social, disability and welfare service delivery
  • Community and economic development.

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The LDM supports an existing partnership with Territory Police on creating a Mutual Recognition Agreement with Mt Liebig, Haasts Bluff and Papunya. It also supports the implementation of a Justice Reinvestment Program across three other communities, which will be done in partnership with the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General Department.

Stage one of the agreement will focus on pathways for the community-led development and economic boost of Papunya, Haasts Bluff and Mt Liebig, along with surrounding homelands. Stage two will kick off later this year, expanding it further across the region by including communities like Aeroyanga, Wallace Rockhole, Hermannsburg, and Watarrka.

A Child and Family Centre has already been established in Papunya, providing outreach to Mt Liebig and Haasts Bluff. However the region’s communities also intend on creating a Junior Ranger program, to connect children with career pathways that remain on country.

Opportunities have also been identified in education initiatives, like the employment of language-speaking staff in schools.

Mr Paech said the signing was a special event as it was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Ngurrarjuta leaders and community who will transform the region’s social landscape in the years to come.

“I congratulate everyone for their care and collaboration to reach this milestone which is the beginning of a journey to support the self-determination of people living in remote communities across Central Australia,” said the Member for Gwoja.

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