Amata and Mimili local implementation plans: our review

First posted on 2 August 2010 under Amata & Mimili.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: COAG & planning

 

In mid 2010, the Australian Government released local implementation plans for two APY communities (Amata and Mimili). In August 2010, the Paper Tracker published the following review of the plans.

Our response

The Paper Tracker is supportive of government initiatives aimed at improving the delivery of services and programs to remote Anangu communities.

The Paper Tracker welcomes the new commitments made by both the Federal and State Governments during the period in which the local implementation plans were being developed. We look forward to tracking the implementation of some of these commitments.

The Paper Tracker is concerned, however, at some aspects of the local implementation plans including:

  • the poor quality of the baseline mapping data,
  • the lack of information on expenditure,
  • the small number of community-specific “actions”,
  • the absence of a timeframe for completing many actions, and
  • the inaccessibility of the plan, especially for Anangu readers.

Poor quality of baseline mapping data

Both the Amata and Mimili plans include short sections on “baseline mapping data.” The Paper Tracker is disappointed that these sections contain very little data and few references to supporting documentation.

For example, the following broad statement appears in the “baseline mapping data” section of the Mimili plan:

A swimming pool was recently built at the Mimili School, with a “no school – no pool” policy enforced. The careful monitoring of this policy has increased school attendance when the pool is operational.[i]

The Paper Tracker believes that for the purpose of baseline mapping this statement should have included more precise information, specifically:

  • the year in which the pool was built (i.e. 2006, not “recently”),[ii] and
  • data on the degree to which school attendance has increased over the last three and a half years.

Moreover, the Paper Tracker is concerned that the “baseline mapping data” sections, as published, rely too heavily and uncritically on 2006 census data, and contain an unacceptable number of ambiguous, outdated, inaccurate and/or contradictory statements.

For example, in both plans the following statement appears:

The APY Lands is held by the Aboriginal Lands Trust under inalienable freehold title resulting from the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981.[iii]

In fact, the APY Lands are held by Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and the title of the land rights Act was changed, in 2005, to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981.[iv]

Another statement – in the Mimili plan – reports that the 2006 census found that less that 5% of people in that community speak Yankunytjatjara at home.[v] This statement is inconsistent with the 2006 census data[vi] and at odds with information included in another part of the document where Yankunytjatjara is described as “the most widely spoken language” in Mimili.[vii]

Under the terms of the overarching National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery, these sections of the plans were supposed to provide:

detailed baseline mapping of social and economic indicators, government investments, services and service gaps [for Amata and Mimili].[viii]

The Agreement also states that the mapping should establish “performance baselines” that can then be used to create “performance indicators and benchmarks” during the development of the plans.[ix]

The Paper Tracker is concerned that:

  • the Amata and Mimili local implementation plans were developed without access to rigorous baseline data; and
  • measuring the ongoing success or otherwise of these plans will present significant challenges in the absence of proper baseline data.

Lack of information on expenditure

Both the Amata and Mimili local implementation plans state that information on “current government expenditure and investment” in these communities was collected to ensure the plans were “based on evidence.”[x]

The Paper Tracker is disappointed that the collected information was not incorporated into the plans or provided as an appendix. Overall, very little information on current or projected government expenditure appears in either document.[xi]

Few community-specific commitments

On 21 April 2009, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Hon Jenny Macklin MP) noted that local implementation plans would “be tailored to the specific needs of each community”.[xii]

Statements in the Amata and Mimili plans reiterate this commitment, noting that “comprehensive community engagement” processes were facilitated to ensure each plan matched the community’s needs and priorities.[xiii]

On the basis of these statements, the Paper Tracker had expected the plans to include a large number of community-specific commitments. This is not the case. Rather, the vast majority of the strategies and actions that appear in the Amata and Mimili plans are identical.

The Paper Tracker has closely examined the “economic participation” sections of both plans. The ultimate aim of these sections is to provide Anangu with the skills and supports they need to be able to “participate effectively in all sectors of the labour market.”[xiv]

Notwithstanding that Amata and Mimili have distinct economic opportunities and barriers, the plans propose the same course of action in both cases. That is, both plans adopt the exact same strategies. Indeed all but one of the 65 actions that appear in each plan are identical.[xv]

The Paper Tracker is concerned that a significant proportion of the plans’ strategies and actions were not shaped by community engagement or conditions on-the-ground but prescribed by government.

Moreover, each plan contains instance where a ‘cut and paste’ technique appears to have been used. For example, the following action appears in the Amata plan (emphasis added):

Reintroduce Tourism Training in Mimili. Develop a business case for tourism operation based around sites, cultural awareness and bush tucker. Liaise with the Commonwealth in relation to infrastructure funding with TAFE SA providing training.[xvi]

Needless to say, the same statement also appears in the Mimili Plan.[xvii]

Key timeframes not specified

The Paper Tracker is concerned that clear information on when the government expects particular actions to be completed is not consistently included in each plan. In fact, in some instances it is not clear how the reporting mechanisms and/or key milestones relate to the action.

For example:

Strategy
Provide adequate aged and palliative care.

Action
Consider the availability of community aged care packages, home and community care programs and respite care allocations.

Progress Reporting / Key Milestones
Next funding round to be set.[xviii]

Another example:

Strategy
Ensure that other environmental health issues are adequately addressed in the community.

Action
Initiate an animal management and pest control strategy to address health and environmental issues associated with the overpopulation of dogs, feral horses, camels, donkeys and vermin.

Progress Reporting / Key Milestones
Discussion with Nganampa Health Council to occur.[xix]

The Paper Tracker is concerned that in both of these examples the actions, reporting mechanisms and key milestones – as listed – are lacking in detail and unlikely to advance the broader strategy.

Inaccessibility of the report

The Paper Tracker is concerned that much of the information contained in the published plans has been written by and for government bureaucrats and, as such, will be inaccessible to many Anangu.

At the very least, an explanation of all of the many acronyms used in each plan should have been provided on the “Abbreviations and Acronyms” page.[xx]

The Paper Tracker acknowledges the challenges involved in communicating complex ideas cross-culturally and welcomes the inclusion of some Pitjantjatjara language texts in the published plans, along with specially commissioned Anangu artwork.

Next steps

Both the Amata and Mimili plans are scheduled to be reviewed in 2011 and, again, in 2013. These reviews will provide an opportunity for the plans to be renegotiated and amended as necessary.[xxi] The Paper Tracker is hopeful that some of our concerns may be addressed through that process and/or in subsequent editions of each plan.

The Paper Tracker welcomes the commitments outlined in each plan (e.g. installation of swimming pool heater in Mimili). We will continue to monitor progress towards the stated outcomes of each plan and publish further information on this website as it becomes available.

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] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p13.

[ii] The pool was formally opened on 28 October 2006 by Hon Mal Brough MP and Hon Jay Weatherill MP. However, the school had been making use of the facility since September 2006 (see: Parliament of South Australia. 2008, Annual Report of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee 2006/207, p35-36; also Bell, C (DECS) 30 July 2010. Email to J. Nicholls).

[iii] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p12; Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p12.

[iv] See Sections 5 & 6 of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. Also: Pitjantjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 1981.

[v] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p12.

[vi] According to ABS data at the time of the 2006 census, 241 people in Mimili spoke the following Indigenous language at home: Pitjantjatjara – 137 speakers, Yankunytjatjara – 92 speakers, Ngaanyatjarra – 9 speakers and Luritja – 3 speakers (see: Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007, “Language spoken at home (Australian Indigenous Languages only) by sex,” Mimili (L) (Urban Centre/Locality), 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Cat. No. 2068.0. Location code ILOC1900117)

[vii] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p8.

[viii] Council of Australian Governments, 29 November 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p6.

[ix] Council of Australian Governments, 29 November 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p6 and p9.

[x] See also: Council of Australian Governments, 29 November 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p6.

[xi] The extent of information included in the plans on funding commitments to Amata and Mimili is as follows. Both plans note that (a) APY will receive $534,000 over a five-year period under the Federal Government’s “Roads to Recovery” program; (b) APY will receive $107,000 in 2009/10 for “community infrastructure”; (c) under the Federal Government’s National Building Economic Stimulus Plan, the APY lands has “been allocated $130,000 for community infrastructure projects, under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program”; (d) ” In October 2004, the Aboriginal (formerly APY) Lands Task Force approved a funding application made by SAPOL, on behalf of the APY communities, for an amount of $163,000, to top up Commonwealth funding provided for Night Patrols.” and (e) applications will be made ” to receive funding from the additional $25m offered as part of the Closing the Gap: Expansion of intensive literacy and numeracy program for underachieving Indigenous students.” In addition, the Amata plan notes that: (a) “Amata has been allocated $3,445,000 to replace existing water infrastructure and install metering of existing houses and to fit out a new bore” and (b) $150,000 has been “allocated between Amata and Mimili to fund a water conservation program” (See: Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p15, P40 & p75; Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p15, p41 & p72).

[xii] Macklin, J. 21 April 2009. Transcript of speech given to the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy in Perth.

[xiii] See, for example: Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p19.

[xiv] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p77.

[xv] The sole exception relates to Economic Participation Outcome 2, Strategy 2, Action 9 where Amata’s action also includes the following sentence: “DEEWR to ensure the IEP contracts commit employers to take part in the retention strategy.” (see: Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p88.

[xvi] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p86.

[xvii] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p85.

[xviii] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p46

[xix] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p50

[xx] The following acronyms appear in one or both plans but are not included on the “Abbreviations and Acronyms” page: DTEI, DHS, BCDE, ITR, LG, AFF, DOD, DFR, DFAT, DoIC, DITRDLG, DISR, DPMC, DoRET, DT, DTED, DEH, DFEEST, DTF, PIRSA, DWLBC, DPLG, DEFEEST, SE GAA, SA GAA, IEP.

[xxi] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p25; Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan, p25.

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.