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Many Rivers Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA)

Date: 25 August 2009
Date To: 25 August 2014
Sub Category:Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA)
Place:Many Rivers region
State/Country:New South Wales, Australia
This Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) was agreed with respect to the Many Rivers Region on the north coast of New South Wales. In particular, this RPA covers a number of priority locations such as Tweed/Byron, Ballina, Casino, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Kempsey, Taree, Hunter and Wyong.
Subject Matter:Economic Development | Education | Employment and Training
Summary Information:
This Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) was agreed on 25 August 2009 between the following parties:

  • the Commonwealth government (represented by the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services and Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction);

  • the New South Wales government (represented by the Hon Carmel Tebutt MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate Change and the Environment);

  • the Many Rivers Training, Enterprise and Employment Aboriginal Corporation;

  • the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council;

  • industry representatives including Border Ranges Contractors, EnviTE, GHD Engineering, Wesley Vocational Institute, the World Indigenous Cultural Exchange and Economic Development Organisation and Yunaga Minesite Services;

  • local government bodies including the Mid North Coast Group of Councils and the Hunter Councils; and

  • other bodies including the Booroongen Djugun College, Dare to Lead for Business, MEGT, the Coffs Harbour Education Campus, the Northern Rivers TAFE NSW, the Green Team Development Unit Aboriginal Corporation (now trading as the Green Teams Alliance) and the Youloe-Ta Indigenous Development Association.

  • The purpose of this RPA is to address Aboriginal unemployment in the Many Rivers Region in a strategic, supportive manner (Clause 1.1). The RPA seeks to create job opportunities in a number of areas including land management, Aboriginal arts, cultural tourism, sport, aged care, housing and government. It also aims to address any human services issues (such as welfare dependency) that may act as obstacles in the transition from long-term unemployment towards sustainable employment.
    Detailed Information:
    Background to this Regional Partnership Agreement

    This RPA is a response to a significant gap in employment levels between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of the Many Rivers Region in New South Wales. The Indigenous unemployment rate in this area is 14%, while the national regional average is only 5.6%. In seeking to respond to this difference in outcomes, the RPA draws on the 'Closing the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage' strategy, which was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) through the signing of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement in November 2008. In particular, this RPA seeks to further the employment aspect of 'Closing the Gap', aiming to halve the discrepancy in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the Many Rivers Region within a decade.

    The signing of this RPA follows a process of collaboration and consultation between Indigenous communities and stakeholders that included Community Development Employment Project (CDEP)/Aboriginal Employment providers, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, local Aboriginal Land Councils and other key Aboriginal organisations.

    Objects of this Regional Partnership Agreement

    As set out in Clause 1.4, the objects or targets of this RPA are to:

  • reduce Aboriginal unemployment in the Many Rivers region by 50% over the next five years;

  • create jobs and business opportunities for Aboriginal people and comunities through economic and business development;

  • establish a continuum/pathway to education and employment for Aboriginal Green Team trainees and employees; and

  • strengthen Aboriginal communities and people in the Many Rivers region through the principles of social inclusion.

  • Governance structures under this Regional Partnership Agreement

    To achieve the abovementioned objectives, this RPA establishes two key governance structures: the Regional Partnership Committee and the Green Team Development Unit Aboriginal Corporation.

    Regional Partnership Committee (RPC)

    The RPC is a governance body made up of representatives from various stakeholder groups, comprising the following members (Clause 2.2):

  • 3 industry experts;

  • 6 Aboriginal employment and training representatives;

  • 6 Aboriginal landowner representatives;

  • 1 local government representative;

  • 1 New South Wales government representative;

  • 1 Commonwealth government representative; and

  • 1 industry representative.

  • The role of the RPC under this agreement is set out in Clause 2.2, and includes the following functions:

  • providing strategic leadership for the RPA, and ensuring a cohesive and coordinated approach between all parties;

  • agreeing on new priorities and areas for joint action, including additional projects or schedules to the RPA;

  • overseeing and monitoring the implementation of this RPA;

  • reviewing the progress of the RPA and related projects, overseeing its performance management and addressing poor performance;

  • taking responsibility for dispute resolution; and

  • ensuring that the objects and outcomes in the RPA are achieved.

  • Green Team Development Unit Aboriginal Corporation (GTDUAC)

    The GTDUAC is an economic and business unit that seeks to provide Aboriginal Green Teams with commercial work opportunities and support services that would enable them to develop their own businesses. It is now trading as the Green Teams Alliance.

    As per Clause 2.3, the role of the GTDUAC under this RPA includes the following:

  • undertaking research across the Many Rivers region to establish the baseline for reporting employment outcomes to the RPA parties;

  • identifying and securing commercial contracts with industry;

  • providing mentoring support to Aboriginal Green Teams;

  • supporting the development and capacity building of Aboriginal Green Teams;

  • advising contract management;

  • facilitating marketing concepts and ideas;

  • providing business management and project management services;

  • coordinating and facilitating arrangements with training, TAFE and employment services providers; and

  • maintaining a strategy to ensure that jobs are sustainable.

  • Pursuant to this RPA, the government parties agree to provide funding to support the establishment and operational costs of the GTDUAC for three financial years from 2009-10. The amount of this funding will be determined at the governments' own discretion, and after three years, the GTDUAC is expected to achieve self-sufficiency.

    The Aboriginal Green Teams

    Aboriginal Green Teams (AGTs) play a crucial role in the employment and economic development strategy under this RPA. There were approximately 63 AGTs in the Many Rivers region when the RPA was signed, all of them being at different stages of development. Some of these AGTs were already at an incorporated business stage with experienced employees, while others needed support, training, work experience and mentoring to enable them to reach a point where they could be considered for industry jobs in the mainstream economy.

    Employment opportunities for Aboriginal Green Teams

    Most of the AGTs in the Many Rivers region were once primarily working on small projects funded by grants from the government (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). This RPA seeks to go beyond these projects by strengthening and developing the business capacity of AGTs in the broader economic sphere, enabling them to generate sustainable employment opportunities for Indigenous people. With these goals in mind, the GTDUAC works to assist the AGTs in identifying commercial work, education, training, business development and business ownership opportunities that would enable Indigenous people to earn a living by working on their own land and country. It seeks to secure $2 million worth of contracts for AGTs in its first year, $4 million in its second year and $6 million in its third year (Clause 2.3).

    Under this RPA, a number of areas have been identified as presenting potential work and development opportunities for AGTs. These areas include commercial environmental work, carbon sequestration, forestry, bio industries, sport, culture, art and media, tourism and hospitality, aged services, housing and construction, business enterprise and Aboriginal employment strategy.

    Education and training for Aboriginal Green Teams

    Aside from its work in securing employment opportunities for AGTs, the GTDUAC will also have a role in providing pathways to education and training for AGT participants.

    In particular, this RPA provides for the possibility of linkage between AGTs and the New South Wales Deparment of Environment, Climate Change and Water's Land Alive traineeship program. Clause 3.3 of the RPA states that the accredited land managers taking part in Land Alive and any other Conservation and Land Management training opportunities could use the support of the GTDUAC as a 'Green Team' business hub. A partnership between this RPA and the Land Alive project would involve a shared goal of social procurement and support for Indigenous land managers' efforts to secure and carry out business opportunities.

    Addressing obstacles to Indigenous employment

    Another key objective of this agreement is to address the obstacles to Indigenous employment - and in particular, to identify the gaps in human services that support Indigenous people working in full time jobs (Clause 3.4). These service gaps largely relate to areas such as chidcare, transport, driver's licences, substance abuse, literacy and numeracy, mentoring, motivation, housing and health. The parties to this RPA will seek to address these gaps through improved data collection and a focus on achieving the 'Closing the Gap' commitments in terms of employment, Year 12 completion rates, health and literacy.
    The GTDUAC has had some success in linking up trained AGT participants with corporate contracts in areas such as natural resource management, highway construction and mine regeneration (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). However, it has also had some difficulty in providing the AGTs with certainty and sustainability due to the short-term and intermittent nature of most of the employment contracts secured so far (Green Teams Alliance, 2011).

    Related Entries

  • National Indigenous Reform Agreement - Closing the Gap
  • Organisation
  • Commonwealth of Australia - Signatory
  • State of New South Wales - Signatory
  • New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council - Signatory
  • Many Rivers Training, Enterprise and Employment Aboriginal Corporation - Signatory
  • Dare to Lead for Business - Signatory
  • GHD Australia - Signatory
  • EnviTE NSW - Signatory
  • Yunaga Mine Services Pty Ltd - Signatory
  • Border Ranges Contractors - Signatory
  • Booroongen Djugun College - Signatory
  • Wesley Vocational Institute - Signatory
  • Mid North Coast Group of Councils - Signatory
  • World Indigenous Cultural Exchange & Economic Development Organisation - Signatory
  • Youloe-Ta Indigenous Development Association - Signatory
  • Hunter Councils - Signatory
  • Green Teams Alliance - Signatory
  • MEGT (Australia) Ltd - Signatory
  • Coffs Harbour Education Campus - Signatory
  • North Coast Institute of TAFE - Signatory

  • Glossary

    Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) (Australia)

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