Regional Partnership Agreement delivering results

An independent review of stage two of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) has found it has significantly improved road and housing infrastructure, as well as education, health and sporting facilities.

The evaluation released last Friday also found the RPA to be an effective Indigenous-driven partnership between the local community, government and industry which has set and achieved realistic goals.

The RPA’s objective is to deliver sustainable improvements to the living standards of people living in the Anindilyakwa region of the Northern Territory.

Stage one of the RPA – the first of its kind in the Northern Territory – was signed between the Australian and Northern Territory Governments and the Anindilyakwa Land Council in May, 2008.

The evaluation, recently conducted by Tempo Strategies Pty Ltd, concluded the work performed by the RPA is based on a professional partnership, shared vision and trust.

The work is being carried out collaboratively to address complex and entrenched problems such as a lack of housing and poor health, education and literacy among local residents. The RPA is also helping to provide residents with the skills required to obtain employment.

In November, 2009, the RPA’s second stage was signed, extending the partnership to include East Arnhem Shire Council and the Groote Eylandt Mining Company. The second stage of the RPA is scheduled to run until 2014.

The evaluation of the RPA’s second stage identified a number of factors that have helped to ensure its success. These included:

  • A focus on long-term goals based on sound evidence and driven by needs identified by the community;
  • The RPA’s efforts being directed at a discrete region which has a single language and culture and an ability to commit substantial resources;
  • Strong leadership and commitment by all partners, including Ministers and senior government personnel;
  • A high level of accountability through transparent delivery and reporting processes;
  • Governance being highly organised and well supported administratively.

The evaluation suggested ways the RPA could be further strengthened, including encouraging changes to social norms to improve health and education and employment outcomes, developing a service system that focuses specifically on the Archipelago, and providing longer-term funding for core services.

The recommendations contained in the review are being implemented by the RPA Committee.

RPAs bring together key parties to deliver a coordinated response aimed at improving the living standards of people living in Indigenous communities. The model has been used in various communities across Australia and may potentially be useful in other regions in the Northern Territory.

The evaluation report is available on the FaHCSIA website.