Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA)

Date: December 2008
Sub Category:Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA)
Place:Shire of Wiluna
State/Country:Western Australia, Australia
The Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) covers the Shire of Wiluna - a key mining and pastoral area in the state of Western Australia. The town of Wiluna is situated 966 kilometres northeast of Perth on the edge of the Western Desert. The Shire has a resident population of under 1,000 people, with 80% of them belonging to the Martu Indigenous community.
Subject Matter: | Economic Development | Education | Employment and Training | Mining and Minerals
Summary Information:
The Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) is a collaborative forum or partnership comprising the folowing parties:
  • the Commonwealth government;
  • the West Australian government;
  • Aboriginal (Martu) community representatives;
  • Mining industry partners including Apex Minerals, Golden West Resources, Magellan Metals, Mega Uranium, Newmont Jundee, BHPB Nickel West, Toro Energy and BHPB Yeelirrie;
  • Wiluna Shire councillors; and
  • Wiluna-based agencies.
  • The purpose of this RPA is to lay the groundwork for a collaborative partnership between Commonwealth, state and local governments, Indigenous organisations and the minerals industry, with a view to enhancing positive socio-economic outcomes for the Indigenous communities of the Shire of Wiluna. The RPA seeks to use supported pathways from education and training to employment and enterprise development to facilitate Indigenous participation in the minerals industry (Magellan Metals, 2010).
    Detailed Information:
    Background to this RPA The Wiluna RPA is one of eight pilot initiatives created under the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Commonwealth government and the Minerals Council of Australia. This MoU sought to formalise a partnership between the parties that would enable them to work with Indigenous groups in mining regions to foster the development of sustainable, economically viable communities with opportunities for employment and economic development. The MoU was later reaffirmed on 27 May 2009, when a revised version was signed by the chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia and three Commonwealth government ministers. The signing of the MoU gave rise to eight Regional Partnership Agreements between mining companies and Indigenous communities, with the Wiluna RPA being one of these agreements. Technically, the RPA is not a document but a partnership or forum that brings together the local Martu community, all levels of government and eight mining companies that operate or plan to operate in the Wiluna region (Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Ltd, 2010). The Wiluna RPA was launched in December 2008, when an RPA coordinator was appointed for a two-year period. The RPA became a well-established, recognised entity in Wiluna in 2009 (Magellan Metals, 'Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement'). Proposed outcomes of this RPA In line with the objectives of the MoU under which it was established, the Wiluna RPA is intended to achieve the following outcomes (Magellan Metals, 2010):
  • increased employability of and jobs for local Indigenous (Martu) people;
  • increased business enterprises by Indigenous people;
  • increased Indigenous participation in the mining industry and in government supply chains; and
  • increased community capacity for sustainable development.
  • Key commitments and priorities The industry partners involved in this RPA have provided two years' worth of funding from November 2008 for an independent coordinator and a Wiluna Indigenous co-ordinator. Through a Management Committee established under this RPA, the partners have also been involved in a number of projects that focus on the following identified priority areas: Workforce participation In terms of workforce participation, the parties have committed to using a case management approach to address the skills gap and improve the retention of Indigenous employees. In particular, the projects that are currently being undertaken under this RPA involve a Pathways to Employment initiative, a skills training centre providing mining work readiness courses, and the completion of a survey of Indigenous employment and business development opportunities in the mining industry in March 2010. Business enterprise The parties have also agreed to support the development of sustainable Indigenous businesses and enterprises in the Wiluna area. This will be achieved through the Enterprise Development - Many River Opportunities project, and the Wiluna Aboriginal Horticulture Industry Development Project (Magellan Metals, 2010). More information on the Wiluna Aboriginal Horticulture Industry Development Project can be found in the Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Ltd report, for which a link has been provided below. Life long learning The parties have agreed to develop whole of community learning opportunities that would improve personal and communal goal-setting and increase familiarity with industry (Magellan Metals, 2010). These opportunities will be advanced through RPA and non-RPA projects including Land Management/Back to Country, improvements in school education outcomes and the Future Fund. Culture, recreation and art The industry partners involved in this RPA have committed to taking an acting part in the Wiluna community by fostering the maintenance of Martu culture and investing in projects that would 'build positive self esteem and life choices' (Magellan Metals, 2010). Martu self-governance The partners have also committed to supporting the Martu people's goal of developing a robust corporate governance structure and entity that would enable them to govern their own social, cultural and economic aspirations (Magellan Metals, 2010).
    As stated in an update by Magellan Metals (the current Chair of the RPA Steering Committee and the Co-Chair of the Wiluna RPA Industry Partners Group) a number of challenges continue to impact on the success of the Wiluna RPA. These include:
  • securing longer term funding for the RPA program through industry and government partners;
  • ensuring effective and equitable involvement by the Martu community in determining future RPA objectives;
  • encouraging government partners to ensure that service delivery takes place in an effective and coordinated manner; and
  • supporting the undertaking of high priority programs and projects without 'overpromising on the role of the Wiluna RPA'. (Magellan Metals, 'Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement')
  • More recently, concerns have emerged as to the likelihood of job losses at Magellan's Wiluna lead mine, which was put into care and maintenance by Magellan's parent company Ivernia (Hunt, 2011). Wiluna Shire deputy president Graham Harris responded to the news of the shut-down by suggesting that it will 'reduce the number of opportunities' in Wiluna due to Magellan's crucial role in the Wiluna RPA and its key project of matching people in the local community with mining jobs (Hunt, 2011).

    Related Entries

  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Minerals Council of Australia and the Commonwealth Government
  • Organisation
  • Commonwealth of Australia - Partner
  • State of Western Australia - Partner
  • Shire of Wiluna - Partner
  • Apex Minerals - Partner
  • Golden West Resources Limited - Partner
  • Magellan Metals Pty Ltd - Partner
  • Newmont Mining Corporation - Partner
  • Mega Uranium Ltd - Partner
  • Toro Energy Limited - Partner
  • BHP Billiton - Partner
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (Cth)
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) (Cth)
  • People
  • Martu People - Partner

  • Glossary

    Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) (Australia) | Memorandum of Understanding