2421

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Submission Number
2421
Participant
NSW Government
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

NSW Government submission in response to the national Senior Advisory Group's Interim Report to the Australian Government on Voice Co-design 3
Alignment with existing arrangements .......................................................................... 3
Local Aboriginal Land Councils ... . .. ... ... ... ... .... ..... ..... .. .......... ... ..... ........ ... 3
Local Decision Making .......................................................................................... 4
Reflecting diversity ....... ........................................................................................... 4
Alignment with National Agreement on Closing the Gap ........ .......... . 5

NSW Premier & Cabinet Page 12
NSW Government submission in response to the national Senior Advisory Group's Interim Report to the Australian Government on Voice Co-design The NSW Government strongly supports work by the Australian Government to ensure that local and regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voices are heard by government decision makers.

This work should enhance the functionality of and complement existing arrangements in NSW Aboriginal communities. It should also reflect the diversity of NSW Aboriginal communities

Alignment with existing arrangements
The need to build on existing structures is acknowledged in the Interim Report as paramount to the
successful operation of any Indigenous Voice. Development of local and regional Voice bodies
presents an opportunity to enhance and build on existing consultative arrangements, rather than
create overlap and duplication. At a local level there are complex, multi-layered Aboriginal
controlled community organisations that provide leadership and voice for local communities. NSW
understands to date that many consultations on the Voice proposal have emphasised the need for
local Voice as well as regional voice Aboriginal Affairs NSW has produced an online mapping tool
to overlay Aboriginal Land Council, Local Government and other administrative regions which
outlines some of the complexity of existing arrangements 1.

There are two structures in NSW where Aboriginal communities have aligned at the macro-level -
Aboriginal Land Councils under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 19832 and regional alliances under
Local Decision Making 3 .

Local Aboriginal Land Councils
NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) pre-date their current form as outlined in the
Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. LALCs have a robust, long-standing statutory structure, large
membership base, and administrative and service delivery capabilities.

Current LALC functions, particularly in relation to service delivery, limit their ability to be considered
'Voice' bodies. However, they clearly perform that role and collectively could be a regional Voice.
They also have regional administrative and electoral processes that could support a "backbone"
organisation for local or regional Voices.

1 https://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/new-knowledge/interactive-boun…
2 https://alc.org .au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/state-alc-2013.jpg
3 https://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/working-differently/local-deci…- making/

NSW
GOVERNMENT Page I 3
Local Decision Making
Local Decision Making (LDM) supports Aboriginal regional alliances to work with NSW
Government on agreed priorities. This is undertaken through accords, which are written
agreements to deliver negotiated outcomes between alliances and NSW Government. The NSW
Government has signed seven accords with alliances. NSW's LDM is recognised as closely
aligning with the Local and Regional Voice framework, with its focus on shared decision making
and priority setting with the NSW Government. There are also two Empowered Communities sites
in NSW, with one also aligned with an LDM site.

Regional alliances could expand their purview to giving local and regional contexts to national
issues. There are also opportunities to address boundaries and coverage issues with existing
regional alliances, and expand interactions with Commonwealth agencies and local governments.

A 2018 evaluation 4 of OCHRE the NSW Government's Aboriginal Affairs plan found that LDM is
perceived as the closest to actual expression of self-determination in Australia, fosters
relationships and promotes open dialogue between Aboriginal communities and government. The
evaluation also identified challenges to implementation of LDM, including local resourcing (financial
and administrative) to improve communication, build capacity and develop regional economic
opportunities. Engagement of all tiers of government and non-government sector, supported by
developing their cultural capability, and greater involvement of other Aboriginal governance
structures (such as Aboriginal Land Council~) was also critical to success of LDM.

Native title settlements in certain parts of NSW 5 have created bodies tasked with representing the
interests of native title holders. In those regio~s. native title bodies could be additional mechanisms
to be considered in designing local and regional Voices.

Aboriginal Land Council boundaries were (and continue to be) self-defined but are relatively fixed
in accordance with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. The boundaries of regional alliances
under LDM are self-defined but less settled. The lnterill') Report identifies the competing objectives
in defining regions as minimising uncertainty on one hand, and allowing regional arrangements to
be self-defined on the other.

Reflecting diversity
Aboriginal New South Wales is demographically, culturally and geographically diverse. Aboriginal
associations with place and regions ought to be the top priority in defining regions, or, as the
Interim Report calls them - 'cultural groupings'.

The starting point for mapping regional boundaries should be by nation and language group. Such
an approach is consistent with the revival of Aboriginal languages6 , recognition of native title rights
and interests, and to protect Aboriginal heritage in NSW.

4
Katz I, Bates S, Idle J, Jopson W, Barnes M. (2018). OCHRE Evaluation Stage 1: Implementation and early
outcomes. Synthesis Report (SPRC Report /18). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney.
Accessed via http://unsworks.unsw.edu .au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:51454/bind0f771 a1 -6383-4b9e-9780-
c64df7 cb8174?view=true&xy=O1
5 http://www.nntt.qov.au/Maps/NSW ACT JBT NTDA Schedule .pdf
6 https://education .nsw.gov.au/content/dam/main-education/about-us/strategies-and-
reports/media/images/NSW and ACT AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia.jpg

I Premier & Cabinet Page I 4
The approach of prioritising cultural boundaries may be challenging in metropolitan areas such as
Newcastle, Central Coast, and Greater Sydney. The cultural diversity and demographics of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents of these areas warrants a different approach.

Further, there were around 70 Aboriginal languages within NSW in 1788, making this criterion
alone impractical. A more useful approach, in consultation with the relevant Aboriginal
communities , could be macro-level cultural groupings, such as Wiradjuri (Riverina and Central
West) and Gamilaraay/Gomeri (North-West NSW), and multiple cultural groups based around
geography such as Murray River and North Coast7.

The Interim Report suggests there are between 25 and 35 regions nationwide, and between five
and seven in NSW8. However, applying the approach to determining the number of regions
described in the Interim Report9 suggests there could be up to 11 regions in NSW. That approach
is the proportion of the Indigenous population of Australia resident within NSW, the existing
regional arrangements, and the demographic split between reg ional and metropolitan regions.

If the higher (and more rea listic) estimate of 35 regions is used, and that one-third (33%) of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are resident within NSW 10, this equates 11
or 12 regions in NSW.

Eleven regions roughly align with the nine NSW Aboriginal Land Council reg ions 11, and the ten
NSW Government administrative regions12 .

If regional areas are separated from metropolitan areas, a feasible (but not definitive) division,
could be that eight regions in regional NSW and Hunter/Central Coast and Sydney make the ten
regions - noting that the Sydney region itself is comprised of unique sub-regions - coastal and
inner (La Perouse and Redfern), Western Sydney (Mount Druitt) and South Western Sydney
(Campbelltown and Macarthur).

Communities have high expectations of government accountability and its role in shared-decision
making 13 . This is similar to the partnership arrangements with Aboriginal peaks in the National
Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Alignment with National Agreement on Closing the Gap
The Voice models, as the Interim Report acknowledges, should be consistent with the National
Agreement on Closing the Gap, in particular Priority Reform One (formal partnerships and shared
decision-making).

7 The former ATSIC region Many Rivers provides a good outline of possible boundaries for a 'North Coast'
region , see https://humanrights .gov.au/sites/default/files/content/social justice/sj report/sjreport05/sj-atsic-
map-hi.png
8 National Indigenous Australians Agency, Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Interim Report to the

Australian Government at page 90 accessed via https://voice.niaa .gov.au/sites/default/files/2021 -
02/indigenous-voice-codesign-process-interim-report-2020.pdf
9 Note 1 at pages 91-92
10 https://www.abs .gov.au/statistics/people/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples/estimates-aboriginal- and-torres-strait-islander-australians/latest-release. The estimated number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander population resident within NSW (at 2016) was 285,685 persons of the national population of
798,365 persons .
11 https://alc.org.au/land council/
12 https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/sectordevelopment/nsw-government-regional-…
13 https://alc.org .au/newsroom/media-releases/voice-proposal-good-start-but-falls-short-of-uluru-aspirations/

''"
NSW
GOVERNMENT Page 15
The NSW Government is working in partnership with the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak
Organisations 14 (CAPO) and other Aboriginal organisations to develop the NSW Jurisdictional Plan
for Closing the Gap.

Governance arrangements have been established to jointly oversee the planning and
implementation of the NSW Jurisdictional Plan with CAPO and NSW Coalition of Aboriginal
Regional Alliances (NCARA). The partnership with CAPO is long term. The Partnership
Agreement 15 , the National Agreement, and the NSW Jurisdictional Plan all having ten-year terms.

The NSW Government will continue to work with the Australian Government on developing options
for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice bodies to advise governments. In doing so, future
Voice bodies must build on existing arrangements in NSW Aboriginal communities and reflect the
diversity of Aboriginal peoples and communities in NSW.

14 https://alc.org .au/capo-nsw/
15 https://www.coag.qov.au/sites/defaulUfiles/aqreements/partnership-agree… O.pdf

I Premier & Cabinet Page 16