Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia
|6 April 2005
|5 April 2010
|Northern Territory, Australia
|Bilaterial Agreement on Service Delivery (Northern Territory)
|The Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia (the Agreement) was signed by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Clare Martin and the Prime Minister John Howard on 6 April 2005. It is the first bilateral agreement to result from the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) 'National Framework of Principles for Delivering Services to Indigenous Australians' endorsed in June 2004. The Agreement sets out areas of priority and is intended to strengthen government efforts in the area of Indigenous affairs.
Two additional schedules to the Agreement have since been approved by the parties, namely:
'Boosting Indigenous Employment and Economic Development' (in March 2006); and
'Healthy Country, Healthy People: Supporting Indigenous Engagement in the Sustainable Management of Land and Seas' (in September 2006).
|The five year Agreement acknowledges the parties' commitment to achieving better outcomes for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. It provides 'an overarching framework for the Governments to work together in a spirit of close cooperation' (para 2). The Background to the Agreement articulates the Governments' commitment to work in partnership to address entrenched disadvantage among Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. The 'National Framework of Principles for Delivering Services to Indigenous Australians' underpins the way in which the Governments are to work together in Indigenous affairs.
The objective of the Agreement is to set out agreed positions on:
' priority areas for bilateral action, including streamlining of existing programs and minimising administrative costs of actions;
principles underpinning bilateral agreements;
future arrangements for Indigenous representation at the regional level and consultation with Indigenous people across the Northern Territory;
core principles for Shared Responsibility Agreements; and
whole of government machinery required' (para 10).
The Agreement identifies five priorities agreed upon by the Governments which are:
the improvement of health and educational outcomes for young people, including through early childhood intervention;
creation of safer communities focussing on issues of authority, law and order;
building Indigenous wealth, employment and entrepreneurial culture as a means to improving economic development, and reducing poverty and welfare dependence; and
improving service delivering and infrastructure which recognises demographic change and the need for improved Government performance.
Greater details regarding these priority areas are set out in the Schedules to the Agreement. There is provision for further Schedules to be attached as other priority areas are finalised.
The principles underpinning the bilateral agreement (beyond those set out in COAG's National Framework) include: more effective planning and service delivery mechanisms assisted by greater certainty in funding arrangements; working to strategic plans; collaboration across all levels; focus on regional and local need; flexibility and innovation in Government approach; improvements in accountability and performance; effective leadership by Government; Indigenous participation in high level policy decisions; and involvement of mainstream funding.
The Agreement sets out the principles of shared responsibility and of future arrangements for Indigenous consultation and representation. These will involve:
' identifying interim arrangements where necessary;
a major focus on capacity development at the local level;
in remote areas - building on local government including the possible development of Regional Authorities under the Northern Territory Local Government Act;
in urban areas - flexible arrangements (including options that bring together Indigenous peak bodies)' (para 19).
There are three Statements of Intent scheduled to the Agreement which form part of the Agreement. These set out commitments dealing with Sustainable Indigenous Housing, Strengthening and Sustaining the Indigenous Arts Sector, and Regional Authorities - A Mechanism for Engaging with Indigenous Interest in the Northern Territory.
Mechanisms for evaluating the measurable outcomes of the Agreement are also set out. The Agreement will be jointly reviewed after three years and may be amended by agreement between the parties.