Amata and Mimili: government business managers

First posted on 2 August 2009 under Amata & Mimili.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: COAG

Summary

In late 2008, the Federal and State Governments agreed to establish Government Business Manager positions in Amata and Mimili.[i]

Appointments to these positions were announced in October 2009.[ii] The officers who won the positions remained in them until September 2010 (Amata) and March 2011 (Mimili).[iii]

On 10 March 2011, the Federal Government confirmed that it had appointed new staff to both positions.[iv] Shortly afterwards, the Mimili position became vacant. The position was re-filled in August 2011.[v]

As of early 2012, across Australia, Government Business Managers remained in their positions for, on average, one year only.[vi]

The Paper Trail

Introduction

In late 2008, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to a new National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery (the Agreement).[vii]

The Agreement‘s primary objective is to improve the delivery and coordination of government services in Amata, Mimili and 27 other Indigenous communities across Australia.[viii]

Under the Agreement, State and Federal Governments are jointly responsible for placing a Government Business Manager in both Amata and Mimili.[ix]

Job Description

Each Business Manager is expected to improve the delivery and coordination of government services at the local community level.[x]

Their key responsibilities and duties include:

  • maintaining “a watching brief on progress at the local level, including the … actioning of local implementation plans,”
  • resolving blockages and, if necessary, escalating “issues through established reporting processes,”
  • keeping the local community informed and “engaging with community leaders and acknowledged and respected elders,”
  • informing government of any actions taken to revise or replace service providers “where current provision is not functional,”
  • providing “regular ‘situation’ reports and/or ‘alert’ reports” to government and the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services, and
  • providing “advice on how government agencies should seek to build investment, revise service delivery and/or take advantage of opportunities” to “close the gap” on Indigenous disadvantage.[xi]

While both the Amata and Mimili Government Business Managers are expected to “develop a detailed understanding of the community in which they work” – including “service delivery and funding arrangements” – they are not expected to “perform a community development role.”[xii]

As part of their work, each Government Business Manager supervises and mentors a local “Indigenous Engagement Officer” whose role it is to act “as a conduit for the exchange of information” between government and the local community.[xiii]

Both the Amata and Mimili Government Business Managers report directly to an Adelaide-based Regional Operations Centre Manager.[xiv]

Appointments (updated 10 May 2012)

Advertisements for the first Amata and Mimili Government Business Managers appeared on 16 July 2009.[xv]

On 30 October 2009, the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs announced the appointment of Mr David Bernard and Mr Mark Weaver to the Amata and Mimili positions, respectively.[xvi] They remained in those positions until September 2010 (Mr Bernard) and March 2011 (Mr Weaver).[xvii]

On 10 March 2011, the Federal Government confirmed that new staff had been appointed to these positions; specifically Mr David Wirken (Amata) and Mr Andrew Naughton (Mimili).[xviii]  Shortly afterwards, the Mimili position became vacant.

In August 2011, Mr Chris Moon commenced work as the new Mimili Government Business Manager.[xix]

In March 2012, the Federal Government reported that around Australia Government Buisness Managers remain in these positions for, on average, one year only.[xx]

Changes to the APY Lands Service Coordination team

Governments have been endeavoring to improve service coordination on the APY Lands for many years.[xxi]

For example, in 2005, as part of a concerted effort “to support a more coordinated approach to service delivery,” the Australian and South Australian Governments established an APY Lands Service Coordination Team.[xxii]

At the time, the Premier of South Australia (Hon Mike Rann MP) commented:

The Service Coordinators will be a focal point – helping bring forward the views of local community people and ensuring government agencies, state and federal, work together.

They will also help avoid disconnection and duplication as well as any other glaring gaps in the delivery of these vital services.[xxiii]

By August 2006, this initiative had expanded to three full-time, high-level “trouble shooter” positions, all of whom were reportedly working hard to “coordinate and trouble-shoot” across State and Federal jurisdictions and APY communities.[xxiv]

Two years later, an additional two service coordinator positions were established and filled by Anangu. These appointments increased the size of the APY Service Coordination Team to five full-time positions.[xxv]

In February 2008, the Federal Government noted that the appointment of the coordinators had:

enabled communities and governments to work together and implement an aligned framework aimed at a more localised approach and understanding of issues, solutions and future program needs.[xxvi]

On 17 June 2009, the Paper Tracker asked the State Department of the Premier and Cabinet for an update on the work of the APY Service Coordination Team, including how it was to be distinguished from the soon-to-be-appointed Amata and Mimili Government Business Managers.[xxvii]

The following month, the Department advised the Paper Tracker that the APY Service Coordination Team would “cease operating” once the Amata and Mimili Business Managers had been appointed.[xxviii]

The Department subsequently advised the Paper Tracker – on 22 October 2009 – that it had decided to retain two of the five positions as part of its Remote Communities Team. The Department expected these positions to work closely with the Amata and Mimili Government Business Managers whilst continuing to improve the coordination of service delivery across the entire APY Lands.[xxix]

On 22 March 2011, the Department further advised the Paper Tracker that one of the APY Service Coordinators (Mr Mark Jackman) “works with the communities of Pipalyatjara, Kalka, Nyapari/Kalka and Watarru”, while the other (Mr Bob Smith) works with the Iwantja, Kaltjiti, Pukatja, Watinuma and Yunyarinyi.[xxx]

The work of these Coordinators, the Department noted, “covers a broad spectrum” of tasks, including “supporting the community councils with their governance, attending council meetings [and] assisting with coordination between and across government(s) and services.” [xxxi]

As of February 2012, Mr Jackman and Mr Smith had both worked in these positions for more than four years.[xxxii]

This article was last updated in February 2012. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] In government documents, alternative names for these positions are “single government interface” and “champions” (see: Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p5; see also, Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p10; and  Council of Australian Governments, November 2008, “Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement,” fact sheet, p2. Available at: http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2008-11-29/docs/20081129_remote_service_delivery_factsheet.pdf. Accessed 30 May 2009).

[ii] Gillam, A (FaHCSIA). 30 October 2009. Email to undisclosed-recipients.

[iii] Bernard, D (FaHCSIA). 27 September 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; Weaver, M (FaHCSIA). 8 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls; Adelaide ROC (FaHCSIA). 10 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[iv] Adelaide ROC (FaHCSIA). 10 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[v] FaHCSIA Media. 17 April 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[vi] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. 20 March 2012. Reply to question on notice asked by Senator Rachel Siewert during the 2011-12 Additional Estimates Hearings, Question No.278.

[vii] See: Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery.” Also: Council of Australian Governments, November 2008, “Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement,” fact sheet. Available at: http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2008-11-29/docs/20081129_remote_service_delivery_factsheet.pdf. Accessed 30 May 2009.

[viii] The Agreement originally focused on 26 communities/locations. This was increased to 29 communities/locations in mid 2009 (Gleeson, B. 15 November 2011. Email to J. Nicholls).

[ix] Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p8 & p10.

[x] Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p8. See also: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 16 July 2009, “Government Business Managers – South Australia,”  http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/careers/vacancies/Pages/GBM_150709.aspx. Accessed: 30 July 2009.

[xi] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 16 July 2009, “Government Business Managers – South Australia,”  http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/careers/vacancies/Pages/GBM_150709.aspx. Accessed: 30 July 2009.

[xii] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 16 July 2009, “Government Business Managers – South Australia,”  http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/careers/vacancies/Pages/GBM_150709.aspx. Accessed: 30 July 2009.

[xiii] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 16 July 2009, “Government Business Managers – South Australia,”  http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/careers/vacancies/Pages/GBM_150709.aspx. Accessed: 30 July 2009. See also: Australian Government and Northern Territory Government Response to the Report of the NTER Review Board, May 2008, p10, Available at: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/nter_reports/response_to_reportNTER/Documents/Aust_response_1882953_1.pdf. Accessed 30 July 2009.

[xiv] Gillam, A (FaHCSIA). 24 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xv] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 16 July 2009, “Government Business Managers – South Australia,”  http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/careers/vacancies/Pages/GBM_150709.aspx. Accessed: 30 July 2009.

[xvi] Gillam, A (FaHCSIA). 30 October 2009. Email to undisclosed-recipients.

[xvii] Bernard, D (FaHCSIA). 27 September 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; Weaver, M (FaHCSIA). 8 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls; Adelaide ROC (FaHCSIA). 10 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xviii] Adelaide ROC (FaHCSIA). 10 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xix] FaHCSIA Media. 17 April 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xx] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. 20 March 2012. Reply to question on notice asked by Senator Rachel Siewert during the 2011-12 Additional Estimates Hearings, Question No.278.

[xxi] For example, on 6 April 2004, the South Australian Government appointed Hon Bob Collins as “Coordinator of Government Services to the APY Lands,” (see: Foley, K. & Roberts, T. 7 April 2004, “Bob Collins to Coordinate APY Land Work,” joint media release.

[xxii] Harmer, J (FaHCSIA). 20 February 2008. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxiii] Rann, M. and Vanstone, A. 29 June 2005, “Service Coordinators for APY Lands,” Joint media release.

[xxiv] Weatherill, J. 5-11 August 2006, “Troubleshooters,” Letter to Editor, The Independent Weekly, p11.

[xxv] Department of the Premier and Cabinet. July-August 2008, On the Lands: a newsletter for APY communities, 1.4: p1.

[xxvi] Harmer, J (FaHCSIA). 20 February 2008. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxvii] McDonald, P. 17 June 2009. Letter to C. Eccles (DPC).

[xxviii] Saunders, N (DPC-AARD). [14] July 2009. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxix] Petersen, K. (DPC-AARD). 22 October 2009. Information provided during telephone conversation with J. Nicholls. Also: Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). 27 October 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxx] Forrest, L (DPC-AARD). 22 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxxi] Forrest, L (DPC-AARD). 22 March 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxxii] See: Government of South Australia. February 2012 “Progress on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands: Service Delivery and Development”, p10. Also: Minutes of the meeting of Wiru Palyantjaku Anangu Task Force held on 23 August 2007.

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