Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Regional Partnership Agreement for New England region

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development
    Paul Lynch , NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

The Australian and New South Wales Governments and the 14 local Aboriginal land councils in the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Northern Region Forum today made a long-term commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people across the New England region.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Paul Lynch, and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council Deputy Chairperson, Tom Briggs, today met in Armidale to start the process of developing a Regional Partnership Agreement.

The Governments and land councils agreed to develop a Regional Partnership Agreement where all parties will work together to achieve long-term, sustainable social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people in the region.

Regional Partnership Agreements are a commitment by the Australian and state and territory governments, Aboriginal community representatives and other stakeholders to work together to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. They are a practical way to identify priority needs and set out a plan to deliver coordinated services, eliminating duplication and gaps.

The Australian Government has 11 regional partnership agreements, including in the Murdi Paaki Region of NSW, Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island in the Northern Territory, Port Hedland in Western Australia and the Western Cape region of North Queensland.

Today, all signatories have agreed that a strong focus on building skills and encouraging employment opportunities is critical to close the gap in Aboriginal disadvantage.

They have agreed that the New England Regional Partnership Agreement will focus on tackling barriers and working on ways to encourage local people to get jobs.

To support the development of the new partnership agreement, the Australian Government is providing $60,000 to establish a project management team to drive employment and enterprise activities under the direction of the Northern Region Forum. This team will identify opportunities for local employment, training and economic development and develop a business plan to maximise outcomes for local people.

In addition, the Australian Government is also investing $40,000 to build local leadership. The funding will be used to deliver leadership workshops for Aboriginal elders from across the New England region.

The Australian and NSW Governments are also providing a further $50,000 each to the Northern Region Forum to immediately assist Forum activities including assistance to consult further with key stakeholders, such as local Aboriginal consultative bodies and service providers, and the Indigenous community about what other priorities and actions will be pursued under the RPA.

Ms Macklin and Mr Lynch acknowledged the commitment and leadership of the 14 Local Aboriginal Land Councils that make up the Northern Rivers Forum, in particular Mr Tom Briggs.

In driving this important process the local land councils have displayed the kind of collaboration and perseverance essential to ensuring governments’ efforts are locally directed and focussed on delivering positive outcomes for Aboriginal communities in the Northern Region.

This Regional Partnership Agreement will strengthen the relationships between the 14 local land councils and governments.