Most communities have significant assets and development opportunities, these have not always been capitalised on and may include;
- Land and fixed assets, via Aboriginal Land Trusts
- Non-Community land for natural resource management protection through IPAs, ILUAs and the like, this could include quite significant 'carbon trading' opportunities
- Defence, it is in the national Interest to ensure our land is occupied, protection of the coast and national security, and a presence on the land is critical
- Tourism opportunities
- Arts centres
- Cultural assets
- Social capital
Many of these opportunities have only been partially explored, and have the potential to provide real economic and social future for development of sustainable Communities.
Development and supporting local representative Community groups and the 'heads of on-site agencies' as important hubs within communities, will be critical in the community governance, planning, coordination as the communications 'hub' for the ongoing development of communities.
If these groups are incorporated they could also take on the role of owning any significant Community enterprises, eg Stores etc, filling or consolidating the void left by the Shire roll out and demise of NT and other Community INCs. The Community Developers would have a coordination and secretariat role in supporting these local groups. More importantly their role would include an emphasis on tangible and real outcomes by working collaboratively with all stakeholders with tightly monitored KPIs.
We propose creating a national organisation to deliver Community Development Services (Sustainable Community Development Australia SCDA) built on best practice community development principles mentioned earlier in this paper.
To do this in a coherent and consistent manner across the country we need to place trained Community Developers in the field in major Communities, these persons would be properly trained, professionally supported and replace the GBMs.
Two Developers are assigned to each community. Each developer will work across three communities. Thus twelve communities will be served by 8 Developers. This scheme is designed to;
- Contribute additional ideas within and between communities.
- Provide a 'buddy' system for the developers .
- Ensure continuity of the project - staff turn-over is a factor that must be addressed.
- Ensure Developers are perceived as facilitators rather than political or welfare agents within a community.
- Avoid the need for (scarce) permanent housing.
All Community Developers would go through an intensive development and facilitation course on commencement and we would have Regional Support Officers in each region and senior Mentors supporting them and the field developers. The Community Developers' role would be focused on higher level community coordination and facilitation and they would be charged with working together with the shire and all other relevant agencies to facilitate the Community development and assist in progressing projects identified in the Community development plans. They would assist in rebuilding and acting as secretariat for the local Community Development Groups and work with them to facilitate good Community Governance and work with all service agencies to assist in good Community coordination and management.
To create this organisation we would establish an independent new body not unlike the 'Outback Stores' model to underpin, support and provide consistent methodologies. This would be independent and may have statutory links. It would have Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal leaders as directors. The organisation would be deliberately designed to be 'lean, mean, non-political and outcome focused'.
Communities would not be obliged to use SCDA's services but encouraged to, this would keep it performance and outcomes driven. There would be a management and service agreement between the parties outlining both parties' roles and responsibilities.
We recommend an immediate start in early 2009 with a pilot in the Central Desert Shire, we have already entered into initial discussions with the Shire CEO who is strongly supportive of the proposal. The project would require a 20 year intent and an initial 3 year funding commitment with an annual review. We would recommend CAEPR or an independent body be selected to complete the review.
The initial pilot could be operated and implemented by Burdon Torzillo, who has over 20 years experience in Community development.
After the first annual review we would consider expanding the project within the Northern Territory over the following 3 years and then throughout Australia.
This approach could be funded through the flexible funding pool for a pilot and development period of three years and funding currently used for NTER and the GBM's could subsidise the project.