The South Australia Government held a Country Cabinet on the APY Lands from Sunday 30 April to Tuesday 2 May 2017.
State Government Response
On Thursday 24 August 2017, Premier Jay Weatherill and Cabinet Ministers met with the APY Executive Board at Parliament House to present them with the State Government’s response to the issues that it had identified as having been raised by the community during the Country Cabinet visit.
The Report covers the following key issues, among others:
- Jobs and training
- Health and wellbeing
- Community services
- Education and youth
- Emergency services
- Governance and land rights
- Technology and communication
- Environment and water
- The cattle business.
Responsibility for monitoring and implementation
The Report indicates that ‘in addition to the actions detailed in this report, a number of issues have been referred for additional action to the APY Lands Steering Committee which comprises representatives from APY council and State and Commonwealth Government agencies. The Committee will be responsible for implementation of this response and continuing to progress these issues over the longer term. The Committee will provide a status report to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation every three months until all issues are resolved (page 5)’.
While the APY Lands Steering Committee has been tasked with progressing and implementing the actions set out in the Report, it remains unclear as to how or whether the Steering Committee itself has the necessary resources and capacity or is the appropriate mechanism to progress and implement the actions as set out. The necessary enforcement functions do not appear to be within the terms of reference of the Steering Committee and it is not resourced or equipped to implement actions. While this is not explicitly stated, it is assumed that the relevant members of the Steering Committee – both State and Federal Government departments as well as the APY Executive – will be required to take responsibility for implementing actions that are relevant to their portfolio areas, and to then report to the Steering Committee on progress, so that the Committee can then report to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on a quarterly basis. The lack of clarity about the implementing and monitoring mechanisms for progressing the actions in the Report remain a concern and could potentially result in the commitments not being met.
Lack of time-frames
It is noted that very few of the actions and commitments that have been made have an associated time-frame or due date. The introduction to the Report states that the APY Lands Steering Committee will report ‘every three months until all issues are resolved’. The non-existent or open-ended nature of the time-frames for the implementation of the actions included in the Report do not offer any certainty or provide the Steering Committee with sufficient details against which they can hold the implementing agency to account. Hopefully, an action plan with time-frames will be prepared so that the implementation of commitments can be monitored.
Role of the Anangu Lands Paper Tracker
The Anangu Lands Paper Tracker will be monitoring the implementation of the actions and the commitments made to APY communities and will provide updates on these, as information becomes available.