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Local decision-making leading to better health outcomes for community

Joseph Guenzler -

Positive outcomes are being observed in the community of Groote Archipelago coming as a result of local decision-making over health, law and justice, education, housing, and economic development.

The Groote Archipelago Local Decision Making Progress Report 2018-22 has been released and is available online.

Throughout 2022 the Northern Territory government and Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) collaborated, utilising the Charles Darwin University Local Decision Making Ground Up Monitoring and Evaluation Final Report, along with extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders in Groote Archipelago to develop the Progress Report.

The Progress Report shows that in just four years there has been significant progress across the Local Decision Making priority areas.

Some highlights include:

Anindilyakwa Housing Aboriginal Corporation, a nationally accredited community housing provider which employs over 12 Traditional Owners, is now managing over 350 community houses on the Groote Archipelago in a culturally appropriate and community led way

The Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Primary College Aboriginal Boarding College has created a new bi-lingual curriculum for all Anindilyakwa children and is progressing its plans for an Anindilyakwa boarding school

Anindilyakwa Housing Aboriginal Corporation, a nationally accredited community housing provider which employs over 12 Traditional Owners, is now managing over 350 community houses on the Groote Archipelago in a culturally appropriate and community led way

The Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Primary College Aboriginal Boarding College has created a new bi-lingual curriculum for all Anindilyakwa children and is progressing its plans for an Anindilyakwa boarding school

The telecommunications to Groote Eylandt have seen major upgrades via the upgrading of fibre backhaul links which are now providing high speed broadband where it was not available before, supporting new jobs and existing residents and businesses

Major projects are taking giant leaps forward with planning for the Anindilyakwa controlled Winchelsea manganese mining operations and 300ha Little Paradise development now well advanced via facilitated development approaches

The establishment of the Groote Archipelago Community Justice Group, which is increasing Anindilyakwa participation in the justice system, and will oversee the design and implementation of a Groote Archipelago Alternative to Custody facility. Anindilyakwa leadership and justice reinvestment is already seeing a dramatic reduction in youth crime and offending.

The establishment of the Warnumamalya Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, involving a passionate group of Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners. They will advise NT Health though a new Health Advisory Board and lead key priorities in the health and wellbeing space, including aged care and disability support, mental health and substance abuse.

ALC Rangers (Image: Groote Archipelago Local Decision Making Progress Report 2018-22)

Minister for Local Decision Making Selena Uibo said that "we can see in Groote Eylandt what Aboriginal leadership supported by Government can really achieve".

"Four years ago the Groote Archipelago (Anindilyakwa) Local Decision Making Agreement was signed and we have since seen enormous progress in the transfer of decision making and services to the Anindilyakwa people," she said.

"Local decisions are the best decisions and our Territory Labor Government is delivering on its commitment to return decision making power back to the bush.

"So far, we have signed eleven LDM Agreements, with 22 more Agreements in development across the NT. The numbers of signed Agreements have doubled in just the last 12 months."

Anindilyakwa Land Council Chair, Tony Wurramarrba is certain that local decision making will yield the best outcomes for the commuity.

"The Groote Archipelago Local Decision Making Agreement recognises that Anindilyakwa people are best placed to make decisions that affect our own lives," he said.

"Local Decision Making creates better outcomes for my people - I know this; I have seen it with my own eyes. We are now in control and this is the new way of doing business for my people.

"While not always comfortable reading, the Data Report provides both a clear reflection of what has been working to help close the gap, as well as highlighting some critical areas for improvement.

"It will take a combined effort to move the dial forward, and this report and our newly established data unit provide the perfect impetus for broader discussions about working together to address the full gamut of issues affecting all Anindilyakwa people."

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