Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Local Decision Making: Giving Power to the People

Aboriginal people on Groote Eylandt have taken another step towards taking control of their own affairs with the formal recognition of community-led approaches to law and rehabilitation, economic development and housing.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) Chair Tony Wurramarrba today signed the first three priority Implementation Plans under the landmark Groote Archipelago Local Decision Making Agreement.

Local Decision Making (LDM) is a Territory Labor Government commitment to provide opportunities to transfer decision making and government service delivery to Aboriginal control.

The Housing Implementation Plan is an agreement between the ALC, the newly established Anindilyakwa Housing Aboriginal Corporation (AHAC) and the Northern Territory Government (NTG) that includes:

o    Supporting the AHAC to become a registered Community Housing Provider under the National Regulatory Framework.

o    A five-year, NTG and ALC joint-funded capital works program for housing and infrastructure to address overcrowding, provide serviced land and upgrade existing homes.

o    A commitment by the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development to progress Remote Contracting Framework Agreements for a range of housing-related services with AHAC and other Anindilyakwa groups.

o    Progressive transition of all Northern Territory Government community housing on the Groote Archipelago to AHAC.

The Economic Development Implementation Plan is an agreement between the ALC and NTG to create a viable, culturally rich and sustainable two-stream economy in the Groote Archipelago. It includes:

o    Endorsement of an overarching economic plan for the Groote Archipelago, which includes sector development in mining, tourism, primary industries, forestry, human services and creative industries.

o    A continued focus on supporting improvements in transport, logistics and telecommunications to and from the Groote Archipelago.

o    A conditional commitment to a Tropical Rock Oyster aquaculture trial at Groote Eylandt and other support in the development of aquaculture industry growth.

o    A commitment to facilitated project support for a range of existing and future projects including the Winchelsea Island mining project.

The Law, Justice and Rehabilitation Implementation Plan aims to increase the involvement and leadership of the Anindilyakwa people in the justice system, including accessing rehabilitation services and reducing the number of Anindilyakwa people in the justice system. It includes:

o    A commitment to establish a Cultural Rehabilitation Centre to provide an alternative to custody for young males.

o    A commitment to establishing a Law and Order Group to advise the Cultural Rehabilitation Centre as well as participate in Community Courts and other community safety initiatives.

Six other LDMs have been signed already – Yugul Mangi, Jawoyn, Gurindji, Kardu/West Daly, Blue Mud Bay and Yolgnu.

Quotes from the Chief Minister, Michael Gunner:

“We are determined to restore local decision making to remote communities.

“We know that building, supporting and investing in strong Aboriginal governance is necessary to ensure local people drive local solutions and protect culture.

“We know that self-determination is the ultimate way to maximise the best outcomes for communities and create economic independence.

“That’s why we implemented Local Decision Making Agreements across the Territory and why we’ve worked with the Anindilyakwa people to create pathways to self-sufficiency for the next generation.”

Quotes from the ALC Chair, Tony Wurramarrba:

“The Northern Territory Government promised the Anindilyakwa people last year, when we signed the Groote Archipelago Local Decision Making Agreement, that it will empower us with decision-making at a local level.

“Now, these first three Implementation Plans will help us carry out this mission and drive opportunities for our people to build a self-sufficient future that is guided by Anindilyakwa people and that protects Anindilyakwa culture.

“We celebrate today – a day that Chief Minister Gunner and representatives of his government and departments have come to our island to make these important promises.”

Media contact: Cameron Angus 0404 021 192.