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Shepparton's indigenous community joins COAG trial.

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Shepparton's Indigenous Community Joins COAG Trial

Joint Media Release - Tony Abbott, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria, Gavin Jennings, Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and the Shepparton Indigenous Community Facilitation Group

IPS 057/2003

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have agreed with the local Indigenous community that Shepparton will be a trial site for a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) initiative to improve outcomes for Indigenous people.

Shepparton is a vibrant community with the largest Indigenous population in regional Victoria.

In April last year, COAG agreed to identify up to 10 Indigenous communities or regions to participate in a new coordinated approach to doing business, including one in each State or Territory.

Currently, Indigenous communities deal with numerous individual agencies across different levels of government on specific issues.

In each trial site, the Commonwealth and relevant State or Territory government has pledged to work more flexibly and to negotiate local agreements with communities on priorities, shared responsibilities and outcomes.

All levels of governments - Commonwealth, State and local - have made a commitment to improve the way they work with the Shepparton Indigenous community as part of the trial and to develop such an agreement.

Under the trials, one Commonwealth department will act as a 'broker' for Commonwealth funding for each region, working closely with the State and the community. At Shepparton, that will be the Department for Employment and Workplace Relations.

The Indigenous Community Facilitation Group, which represents the Indigenous people of Shepparton, has welcomed the initiative and the opportunities it will provide.

'This new partnership gives us a strong voice in the decision making process for our community,' community members said.

The Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Abbott, said Shepparton was an obvious choice for this new approach.

'Shepparton has the largest Indigenous population in regional Victoria,' Mr Abbott said.

'It is a strong and committed community whose members work very hard to get what they need.'

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said governments could work a lot better with Indigenous communities.

'The State and Commonwealth Governments want to test creative ways of delivering services to the Koori community in Shepparton, and we want the Koori community to set the direction,' Mr Bracks said.

'We're committed to working closely with the Koori community so that Government services fit around their needs and their priorities. This is a radical change from the community having to organise itself around Government programs.'

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock said the key to this new initiative was that neither governments nor Indigenous communities could do it all on their own.

'We must work together and share responsibility for getting better results,' Mr Ruddock said.

'We believe that there are lots of opportunities for the whole community to make the most out of this trial.'

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings said his department was committed to building on Indigenous community strengths and capacity to achieve this vision.

'We will also work closely with all levels of Government to encourage greater collaboration with the Indigenous community in Shepparton,' Mr Jennings said.

Other trial sites that have been announced are Cape York in Queensland, Wadeye in the Northern Territory, the Anangu Pitjantjatjara (AP) Lands in South Australia

and Tjurabalan and region in Western Australia.

Media Enquiries: Mr Ruddock's office: Jeremy Chitty 0418 971 042 Mr Abbott's office: Andrew Simpson 0408 490 207 Premier's office: Sarah McKinnon 0409 008 412 Shepparton ICFG: Joanne Atkinson 0400 050 786

30 July 2003