APY Lands: youth engagement strategy

First posted on 22 May 2009 under APY Lands.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: youth

Summary

In 2008, the South Australian Government reported that it was developing a strategy to support Anangu youth who had “disengaged from education, vocational learning and employment.”[i]

As of March 2009, the Government hoped the strategy would be finalised in time for the allocation of funding for the 2009/10 financial year.[ii] This did not happen. In November 2009, the Government reported that a “draft strategy had been developed” and that an “associated Action Plan” was “being drafted.”[iii]

On 5 November 2010, the State Government advised the Paper Tracker that the development of the strategy had been “put on hold” while a number of community-based “action plans” were developed.[iv]

An “Amata Anangu Youth Action Plan” was completed in April 2012.[v]

On 22 May 2012, the State Government advised the Paper Tracker that a similar plan would be created for Mimili community but that there were “no immediate plans” to replicate this process in other APY communities.[vi]

The Paper Trail

Across the APY Lands, many young people have poor school attendance. These young people are at particular risk of engaging in a number of high risk activities such as alcohol and substance abuse. Even those students who have successfully completed all or part of their high school education remain susceptible to engaging in high risk behaviours.[vii]

In response to this situation, the State and Federal Governments decided to develop an APY Youth Engagement Strategy to assist Aboriginal young people between the ages of 12 and 20 who were “disengaged from education, vocational learning and employment”. [viii]

Commenting on this work in August 2008, the South Australian Government noted that a senior project manager was “currently working with APY communities as well as State and Commonwealth agencies” to:

  • identify the young people in the target group in each APY community,
  • “develop and implement” a “program structure,”
  • “develop ideas for diversionary programs that could be run in each community (from 2009),”
  • “establish a method of evaluation,” and
  • “run or support a number of trial programs during 2008”.[ix]

More specifically, the Government reported that:

  • a database of those young people aged between 12 and 20 years who are “not attending school or other training or work” had been created,
  • a trial construction program at Ernabella School was “offering training and accreditation opportunities for approximately eight to ten young men,”
  • a trial Bush Mechanics program was “being developed at Amata” and was “likely to commence later in 2008,” and
  • 21 participants had successfully completed a trial “pastoral industry training program” in May 2008 (developed and run by APY Land Management).[x]

Further information on the APY Youth Engagement Strategy appeared in October 2008. At that time, the State Government reported that:

  • “detailed consultation” had been completed with “Anangu organisations, government agencies and staff on the Lands,”
  • specific programs would be developed in a number of areas, including conservation and land management, pastoral skills, and art and culture,
  • other program areas under consideration included “construction, mechanics and [information technology],”
  • all programs would be planned in consultation with the State Department of Education and Children’s Services in an effort to create “pathways to encourage those in the target group” who were still of school age “to re-engage with the school program,” and
  • notwithstanding that some trial programs had been run in 2008, “most of the programs [would] commence in 2009.”[xi]

SA Government advice (2009)

On 4 March 2009, the State Government informed a Senate Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia that the development of the Youth Engagement Strategy was “being coordinated by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet” and that it hoped the strategy would:

be finished within the next month or so, because we want to look at that engagement strategy in developing our funding for the next financial year.[xii]

On 2 April 2009, the Paper Tracker asked the Department of the Premier and Cabinet for some detailed information on the strategy.[xiii] A response to this request was received on 22 April 2009.[xiv]

Among other things, the response noted that:

  • both the State and Commonwealth Governments, along with three non-government organisations, had “agreed to participate in the development of an APY Youth Strategy,”
  • the “first formal meeting of stakeholders” had been held on 26 November 2008,
  • representatives of seven government departments and three non-government organisations had participated in that first meeting, and
  • two additional State Government departments – the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology and the Department of Health – would be invited to participate in the process.[xv]

The response continued:

The work on the strategy is still in draft stage and while it has been extremely pleasing to note the commitment by stakeholders to the concept and process, we will now be seeking their formal commitment to the draft document.

The next stage of the process includes the development of the underlying implementation plan and operational model. This stage will allow for the strategy to be costed and will also include community and service provider consultation.[xvi]

The response did not indicate when the Government expected the strategy to be completed. Nor did it respond to our request for specific information on:

  • the total cost incurred in developing the strategy,
  • the amount of funding that has been allocated for its implementation, and
  • how the strategy would be monitored, measured and evaluated.[xvii]

On 2 December 2009, the State Minister for Families and Communities (Hon Jennifer Rankine MP) advised the South Australian Parliament that its APY Lands Youth Strategy remained a draft document and that the associated Action Plan was still under development.

Specifically, the Minister stated:

The Department of the Premier and Cabinet … is developing a Youth Strategy for the APY Lands and will consider available resources to maximise the opportunities and outcomes of the existing youth programs delivered by a number of agencies. A draft strategy has been developed for discussion and an associated Action Plan is being drafted. The goal of the strategy is to engage young Anangu as active participants in their communities and to enable them to make decisions and choices through access to a learning environment and to comprehensive and high quality youth services that are supported by committed and culturally competent staff.[xviii]

The Paper Tracker notes that the Minister’s report provided no explanation as to why the strategy had not been finalised in the first half of 2009 as previously intended.[xix]

SA Government advice (2010)

On 21 April 2010, the Paper Tracker asked the South Australian Government for an update on the development of its APY Lands Youth Strategy.[xx] In particular we asked:

  • whether the draft strategy had been finalised and, if so, when this had occurred,
  • whether the associated implementation plan and operational model had been finalised and, if so, when this occurred,
  • the estimated cost of implementing the strategy, and
  • when the Government expected to provide the Paper Tracker with a copy of the strategy.[xxi]

More than six months later, in a reply dated 5 November 2010, the Government advised the Paper Tracker that:

  • the development of the APY Lands Youth Strategy had been “put on hold, whilst priority actions were developed to meet the needs of young people in Amata”,
  • this decision had been made in response to the identification of Amata and Mimili “as the two priority remote Aboriginal communities for South Australia” under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery, and
  • once the Amata Youth Action Plan has been finished “a similar process will be undertaken with Mimili and then other key communities.”[xxii]

Click here to download a copy of the Government’s advice (file size: 288KB)

Updates and advice (2011)

On 30 September 2011, Australia’s Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services (Mr Brian Gleeson) reported that:

  • the Amata Youth Action Plan was “expected to be finalised soon”,
  • a similar plan needed to be developed for youth in Mimili, and
  • the South Australian Government was unable to identify how much funding was “currently committed for youth programs” in either Amata or Mimili. [xxiii]

On 18 October 2011, Mr Stephen Marshall MP (Member for Norwood) asked the then State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (Hon Grace Portolesi MP) for an update on the development of the APY Youth Strategy.[xxiv]

In reply, the Minister indicated that:

  • “a directory of youth services” in Amata would soon be released, and
  • “a monthly program of activities would be placed in [that] community.”[xxv]

The Paper Tracker notes that the Minister’s response did not include any information on the development of either the regional youth strategy or the action plans for other APY communities.[xxvi]

Updates and advice (2012)

On 30 January 2012, the Paper Tracker asked the South Australian Government for an update on the development of the action plans for Amata, Mimili and other APY communities.[xxvii]

On 8 February 2012, the Government advised the Paper Tracker that:

  • “the draft Amata Youth Action Plan… [would] be further discussed with the Amata community and key stakeholders prior to it being made publicly available”,
  • a “draft Amata Youth Services Directory” had been compiled and was “currently being refined and updated”, and
  • once Amata’s Youth Action Plan had “been considered and implemented, the relevant lessons will be drawn and the Mimili community will be engaged regarding their views and priorities related to the development of an action plan for their community.”[xxviii]

The advice concluded:

There are various youth-focused activities and programs run across a number of APY communities and it is envisaged that the Family Wellbeing Centres will also provide a focus on youth services and programs. At this stage, youth action plans have not been developed for other communities but an extension of the plans is being considered. [xxix]

In April 2012, the “Amata Anangu Youth Action Plan” was completed. Shortly afterwards, the first meeting of the Amata Youth Council was held.[xxx]

On 22 May 2012, the South Australian Government advised the Paper Tracker that:

  • “the process for developing” the Mimili Youth Action Plan would “be similar” to the one used in Amata,
  • to that end, “a community meeting will be organised in Mimili in the near future”, and
  • there were “no immediate plans to develop Youth Action Plans in other communities on the APY Lands, although it is expected the work in Amata and Mimili will inform similar initiatives.”[xxxi]

This article 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] Government of South Australia, August 2008, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia, p8

[ii] Petersen, K. 4 March 2009, Hansard (Proof Copy), Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Senate, Parliament of Australia, p47.

[iii] Rankine, J. November 2009. First Annual Report to the Parliament of South Australia by the Minister for Families and Communities on the ‘Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry – A Report into Sexual Abuse,,” p35. Minister Rankine tabled the report in State Parliament on 2 December 2009 (see: Parliament of South Australia. 2 December 2009. “Papers,” Hansard, House of Assembly, p4952).

[iv] Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). 5 November 2010. Letter to J. Nicholls.

[v] Wirken, D (FaHCSIA). 23 May 2012. Email to J. Nicholls and attachment.

[vi] Cronin, P. 22 May 2012. Email to J. Nicholls from the Office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.

[vii] Government of South Australia, August 2008, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia, p8.

[viii] Government of South Australia, August 2008, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia, p8. The Paper Tracker understands that funding for developing the strategy was provided by at least two federal government departments: the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Families, Housing, Communities Services and Indigenous Affairs (see Urbis, June 2008, Review of First Phase of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy: Final report prepared for the Department of Families, Housing, Communities Services and Indigenous Affairs, p30). It seems possible that funding was also provided by the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (see: Australian Government. 22 August 2008, “Submission to the Senate Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia,” p35-36)

[ix] Government of South Australia, August 2008, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia, p9.

[x] Government of South Australia, August 2008, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into petrol sniffing and substance abuse in Central Australia, p9.

[xi] Government of South Australia, October 2008, “Progress on the Lands: Update on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands,” p7-8.

[xii] Petersen, K. 4 March 2009, Hansard (Proof Copy), Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Senate, Parliament of Australia, p47.

[xiii] Nicholls, J. 2 April 2009. Letter to C Eccles. Click here to read a copy of the Paper Tracker’s letter seeking information on the strategy (file size: 257KB)

[xiv] The departmental letter was dated “April 2009” (i.e. the exact day on which the letter was signed and sent was not specified). The letter arrived at UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide’s office on 22 April 2009.

[xv] Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). April 2009, Letter to J. Nicholls.

[xvi] Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). April 2009, Letter to J. Nicholls.

[xvii] Nicholls, J. 2 April 2009. Letter to C Eccles. Click here to read a copy of the Paper Tracker’s letter seeking information on the strategy (file size: 257KB)

[xviii] Rankine, J. November 2009. First Annual Report to the Parliament of South Australia by the Minister for Families and Communities on the ‘Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry – A Report into Sexual Abuse,,” p35. Minister Rankine tabled the report in State Parliament on 2 December 2009 (see: Parliament of South Australia. 2 December 2009. “Papers,” Hansard, House of Assembly, p4952).

[xix] See: Petersen, K. 4 March 2009, Hansard (Proof Copy), Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Senate, Parliament of Australia, p47.

[xx] McDonald, P. 21 April 2010. Letter to K. Petersen (DPC-AARD).

[xxi] Nicholls, J. 21 April 2010. Letter to K. Petersen (DPC-AARD).

[xxii] Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). 5 November 2010. Letter to J. Nicholls. Note: in June 2010, while the Paper Tracker was awaiting a response from the South Australian Government, the Federal Government reported that the “whole of government APY Lands Youth Strategy” had been “superseded by the Youth Action Plan” and that the “finalisation” of a “Youth Engagement-Intervention Methodology” had also been superseded by this plan (See: Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p70 and p71).

[xxiii] See: Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p26 & p48.

[xxiv] Parliament of South Australia. 18 October 2011. “APY Lands, Youth Strategy,” Hansard, House of Assembly, p5344-6.

[xxv] Parliament of South Australia. 18 October 2011. “APY Lands, Youth Strategy,” Hansard, House of Assembly, p5344-6.

[xxvi]  See: Petersen, K (DPC-AARD). 5 November 2010. Letter to J. Nicholls. Note: in June 2010.

[xxvii] Nicholls, J. 30 January 2012. Email to J. Vaughan (Office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation).

[xxviii] Vaughan, J (Office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation). 8 February 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxix] Vaughan, J (Office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation). 8 February 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxx] The Amata Youth Council Meeting was held on 22 May 2012 (see: Wirken, D (FaHCSIA). 23 May 2012. Email to J. Nicholls and attachment).

[xxxi] Cronin, P. 22 May 2012. Email to J. Nicholls from the Office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.

The Paper Tracker works hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information. We will correct any inaccurate information as soon as it is brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have additional information or can provide us with an update.