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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 204


Senator O’Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 23 December 2004:

With reference to the department’s involvement in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Indigenous trial site in the Far East Kimberly:

(1) (a)   What funds have been expended in relation to this trial by the department; and (b) will the Minister identify the expenditure by activity and financial year.

(2)   On what dates: (a) has the Secretary visited each of the five communities located within the trial site; and (b) have other officers of the department visited each of the five communities located within the trial site.

(3)   What outcomes can be attributed to the department’s involvement in the COAG trials.


Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Department has been involved in the East Kimberley COAG since 2002. The overall financial contribution from the Department includes a direct contribution in the form of salaries and operational expenses and project based funding sourced from other Commonwealth Agencies. Estimated expenditure up to 31 December 2004 is outlined in the following table.

Description

2002/03 ($)

2003/04 ($)

2004/05 (as at 31/12/04) ($)

1. Estimated general Departmental expenses

81,178

369,819

297,669

2. Provision of administration centre in Billiluna

0

22,016

33,144

3. Development of community safety and grog strategy

0

10,482

24,778

4. Contribution towards youth activities in Balgo

0

0

4,263

5. Provision of short-term accommodation for visiting workers in Balgo

0

58,233

0

6. Assistance towards community consultation and participation in the trial site

0

50,854

16,505

7. Assistance for COAG Women’s Gathering

0

50,418

19,821

Notes

1. General Departmental expenses include salaries, travel, and other related administrative expenses. Expenses are an estimate, as the staff involved have other responsibilities as well. Salary costs based on average costs per Full Time Equivalent employee for the period.

2. Funds for this activity were sourced from Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

3. Funds for this activity were sourced from the Attorney Generals Department.

4. Funds for this activity were sourced from the Attorney Generals Department.

5. Funds for this activity were sourced from Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

6. Funds for this activity were sourced from Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

7. Funds for this activity were sourced from Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

(2) (a)   The then Secretary, Mr Ken Matthews, visited the East Kimberley COAG trial site on 24 September 2002, 21-22 October 2002 and 13-15 April 2003 for meetings with representatives from each of the trial site communities.

(b)   In addition to ongoing visits by the local Departmental Officer based in Halls Creek since July 2003, National Office and WA State Office staff visited the trial site and Halls Creek, the closest town to the site on the following dates:

        24 September 2002

        21-22 October 2002

        9-13 December 2002

        26 March 2003

        13-15 April 2003

        10 June 2003

        2-8 November 2003

        30 November - 5 December 2003

        18-27 February 2004

        18-22 April 2004

        2-6 June 2004

        1 July - 8 July 2004

        13-15 December 2004

(3)   The key objectives for the 8 COAG Trials in Indigenous communities across the country are to:

  • tailor government action to identified community needs and aspirations;
  • coordinate government programmes and services where this will improve service delivery outcomes;
  • encourage innovative approaches traversing new territory;
  • cut through blockages and red tape to resolve issues quickly;
  • work with Indigenous communities to build the capacity of people in those communities to negotiate as genuine partners with government;
  • negotiate agreed outcomes, benchmarks for measuring progress and management of responsibilities for achieving those outcomes with the relevant people in Indigenous communities; and
  • build the capacity of government employees to be able to meet the challenges of working in this new way with Indigenous communities.

The following specific activities and outcomes are directly attributable to the Department’s involvement in the East Kimberley COAG trial to this stage:

  • Improved understanding and knowledge of the trial site communities through the completion of a comprehensive study on key issues and how communities would like to deal with them. This study was jointly funded by the Department of Family and Community Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS).
  • Working towards agreed actions and outcomes for the trial site through the development of a joint lead agency action plan to guide the work of the Australian Department of Transport and Regional Services and Western Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs. This plan is being finalised as a basis for discussion with government agencies and the Trial Site communities for their input. The agreed plan will include performance indicators to monitor the further outcomes of the Trial.
  • Contributing towards improved governance through the establishment of a new governance forum, the interim Reference Group, that provides community members with an opportunity to interact on a regular basis with senior representatives of the Australian, State and Local Governments.
  • Providing assistance to people within the region to participate in new governance forums and achieve effective community governance through the appointment of a locally based Departmental officer as a community initiatives coordinator to and the creation of community consulting agent positions to liaise between governments and community members.
  • Contributing to improved awareness of the health impacts of alcohol and substance abuse and related justice issues through a series of workshops on alcohol and safety and the development of draft community action plans to address the issues raised.

Contributing to government and community partnerships to improve service delivery to communities by facilitation of Shared Responsibility Agreements and the provision of funds to support key activities as outlined in the response to Q2.