Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

First report into Remote Indigenous Service Delivery

The Australian Government today released the first six monthly report from the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services on the progress being made in delivering essential services to people living in 29 priority Indigenous locations across Australia.

In July this year, the Government appointed Brian Gleeson as Coordinator General to drive the implementation of major reforms in housing, infrastructure and employment in remote communities.

The Coordinator General has the authority to coordinate across agencies and cut through bureaucratic red tape to make sure services are delivered effectively.

After decades of uncoordinated, ad hoc actions from governments at all levels, a comprehensive and sustained approach is vital to provide residents of remote Indigenous communities with the facilities and services you would expect in any Australian town of the same size.

Notwithstanding the substantial additional commitments in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnerships, the Government understands this will not happen overnight. We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians to deliver the services and infrastructure essential to end the inter-generational transfer of disadvantage.

The Coordinator General’s report details the performance of Governments in meeting its commitments to implement the National Partnership on Remote Service Delivery to help close the gap in remote Australia.

Since his appointment, Mr Gleeson has visited all the priority communities to meet service providers and residents and see first hand the progress that is being made.

The Coordinator General finds that clear progress is being made in the priority locations across the seven key areas identified by the Council of Australian Governments including:

  • The first of 10 new child and family centres will be operational from March 2010;
  • Schools in 27 of the 29 communities are being targeted for assistance under the Smarter Schools National Partnerships and will receive assistance commencing next year;
  • All priority communities are benefiting from Primary Schools for the 21st Century and National School Pride projects with total investment of $72.8 million;
  • Around 633 jobs have been filled in 28 communities through the conversion of CDEP places to properly paid ongoing positions; and
  • 327 new homes are on track to be completed in the 29 communities by December 2010

In many communities, the investment in services and infrastructure is improving the health and safety of families and children. Every day at the Yuendumu child care centre, between 40 and sixty children along with their parents and extended family participate in range of early childhood education activities. Under the guidance of 14 full-time Aboriginal child care workers, the children also have visits from the health clinic nurse and swim in the pool.

In Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek where local people waged their own campaign for alcohol restrictions, recent evaluations have seen a significant reduction in alcohol related crime and violence, increasing birth weights for babies and healthier newborns.

To continue to support the roll out of the COAG Remote Service Delivery Strategy, Government Business Managers and Indigenous Engagement Officers are being employed to provide on the ground support in all 29 priority locations.

The Coordinator General finds that while clear progress has been made, there are key obstacles which must be overcome if we are to achieve real change, including:

  • Variable levels of servicing across communities, with some communities lacking basic services;
  • Overcoming a “business as usual” mentality from some public servants to achieve real change;
  • Examples of significant delays in small to medium scale infrastructure projects due to a combination of poor scoping and poor management; and
  • Poor governance in communities needs to be improved through leadership training tailored to local circumstances.

The report recommends a series of reforms to deliver improved services within remote communities and build leadership.

The Government will consider these recommendations over the coming months.

The report and further information about remote service delivery is available at