Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Stage two of historic Groote Eylandt Regional Partnership Agreement

Joint Media Release with:

  • Paul Henderson MP, NT Chief Minister
    Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

Improved infrastructure and better social and economic outcomes for Indigenous people in the Groote Eylandt region will be delivered following the signing of stage two of an historic Groote Eylandt Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) in Darwin today.

The total value of stages one and two of the RPA will exceed $80 million including $20 million for the sealing of the Umbakumba road and over $60 million for housing.

The $60 million for housing will provide 80 new houses across Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island and at least 75 rebuilds and refurbishments as previously announced.

Today’s signing builds on the success of the first stage which has already seen new housing works commence under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP), over $1.8 million provided to better support sufferers of Machado Joseph Disease, which is prevalent across the region, and the establishment of a regional AFL program.

Key projects under stage two include:

  • $20 million to seal the road from Angurugu to Umbakumba, including $9.5 million from the Australian Government, $5 million from the Anindilyakwa Land Council and $5.5 million from the Northern Territory Government;
  • improving the education system across all ages, including accommodation for eight new teachers at Umbakumba;
  • fluoride treatment plants at Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra;
  • cyclone shelters for all three communities;
  • construction of a new health clinic at Umbakumba;
  • improved police presence, including an office for visiting police at Angurugu;
  • 54 new houses, in addition to 26 under stage one, as part of SIHIP and incentives to access home ownership; and
  • the continuation of successful stage one projects, including the AFL Remote Regional Development Program and the Economic Development and Employment Strategy.

The sealing of the road to Umbakumba will give local people greater access to jobs, education and training, medical services, and social and sporting events.

Signatories to the agreement, along with the Australian and Northern Territory Governments, include the Anindilyakwa Land Council, the mining company GEMCO, and the East Arnhem Shire Council.

This partnership between a land council, a mining company, and all levels of government is significant and highlights the way forward for Indigenous communities.

A key feature of the stage two agreement is the commitment by the Anindilyakwa Land Council to provide up to $14 million in royalty equivalent income towards RPA projects, including the sealing of the road to Umbakumba and a clinic at Umbakumba.

This is one of the first times that Indigenous groups receiving royalties or native title payments have used their funds to leverage government funding.

The Groote people’s decision, which will help deliver long-term benefits for the region’s communities, is an extraordinarily far-sighted step by the council to contribute their own resources to community-wide initiatives for everyone’s benefit.

The Australian Government is determined to improve the ways in which royalty payments are delivered. We are encouraging all Indigenous organisations receiving royalty payments to work with government to ensure there are sustainable, long-term benefits from these arrangements.

Regional Partnership Agreements demonstrate how governments, communities, land councils and industry can work together in partnership to deliver long-term benefits and outcomes for remote communities.

Traditional owners have shown their commitment to partnership and visionary leadership through their decision to grant a long-term lease of 40 years with an option for an additional 40 years, over the communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.

Working together with Indigenous communities is fundamental to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians and closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

The first stage of the Groote Eylandt RPA was signed in May 2008. This historic agreement between governments and communities was the Northern Territory’s first Regional Partnership Agreement.