2764

Submissions: Your Feedback

Submissions from people and organisations who have agreed to have their feedback published are provided below.

The views expressed in these submissions belong to their authors. The National Indigenous Australians Agency reserved the right not to publish submissions, or parts of submissions, that include, for example, material that is offensive, racist, potentially defamatory, personal information, is a copy of previously provided materials, or does not relate to the consultation process.

An auto-generated transcript of submissions provided as attachments has been made available to assist with accessibility. These transcripts may contain transcription errors. Please refer to the source file for the original content.

Please note not all submissions are provided in an attachment. For submissions without an attachment, click on the name of the person or organisation to view the text.

Site functionality has recently been improved. You can now search by participant name and submission number. You can also click on the number, date and participant column headings to sort the order of submissions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that submissions may contain images or names of deceased people.

If you require any further assistance please contact Co-designVoice@niaa.gov.au.

 

Submission Number
2764
Participant
Barang Regional Alliance
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

SUBMISSION TO THE INDIGENOUS
VOICE CO-DESIGN PROCESS:
INTERIM REPORT TO THE
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

Barang Regional Alliance
96 Pacific Highway, Wyong, NSW
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Barang Regional Alliance acknowledges and pays
respect to our ancestors – those who have gone
before us - those who have cared for and managed
these lands, seas and waterways for generations.

We pay respect to the Darkinyung people, whose
land we operate and function on. We recognise
and acknowledge all Aboriginal people who have
come from their own Country and who now call
Darkinjung Land home.

We pay tribute to our Elders past and present - we
acknowledge our youth and emerging leaders
who are our future guardians of Country, culture,
language, and truth.

-2-
CONTENTS

FOREWORD/INTRODUCTION 4

CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION 5

WHO WE REPRESENT - OUR REGION:
DARKINJUNG COUNTRY - THE NSW
CENTRAL COAST ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY 6

BARANG’S HISTORY 8

BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE 13

HOW BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE DRIVES
REFORM AND SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY 14

THE STRENGTH OF THE EC FRAMEWORK
ALONGSIDE THE NSW GOVERNMENTS LDM 15

REGION LEAD DESIGN 15

5 YEARS OF LEARNING 16

THE VOICE REGIONS 16

BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES 17

NGIYANG WAYAMA 17

KEY LEARNINGS FOR BARANG INCLUDE 19

PRINCIPLES BASED FRAMEWORK:
ADAPTING TO NEW MODELS 20

BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE –
EMPOWERMENT PRINCIPLES 20

REPRESENTATIVE STRUCTURES:
BUILDING ON EXISTING ARRANGEMENTS 21

CONCLUSION 23
FOREWORD/INTRODUCTION

Barang Regional Alliance is the regional representative structure
established in 2013 by the Central Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander community and its associated Aboriginal Community Controlled
organisations.

The Central Coast of New South Wales – traditional lands of the
Darkinjung people - is located in approximately 1.5 hours north of Sydney,
and approximately 1.5 hours south of Newcastle.

We are a mature region that boasts a strong, dynamic, and diverse
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with well-established
regional governance, community structure, protocols, custodians and
Traditional Owners.

Barang Regional Alliance is the first regional governance structure in
Australia to successfully negotiate on an agreed reform agenda with
both Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, through our
involvement with Empowered Communities (federally) and Local Decision
Making (State).

Our region is the fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
population in Australia – with a conservative estimate of 12,465 people
occupying a geographical footprint of 1,681 square kilometres. Our region
has, and continues to be, overlooked by all tiers of government.

Barang Regional Alliance has assisted in the planning, development and
co-ordination of ongoing community consultations including, but not
limited to, playing an instrumental role in having a “Voice” consultation on
the Central Coast.

With the support of our community, this submission seeks for the
Central Coast to be recognised and included as a stand-alone and
district region in the regional voice framework

We believe that the oversight of our region could be the first of many
cascading blows to follow if the Central Coast is not adequately
represented and our voices heard.1

1
Central Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community submission to the Indigenous Voice process

-4-
CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION

On the 13th of June 2018, Barang Regional Alliance made a submission
to the Joint Select Committee, specifically in relation to constitutional
recognition. In this, we tabled our support for the reforms proposed in
the Uluru Statement, because, to date, they are the only reforms with
Indigenous backing.

Barang Regional Alliance does not support constitutional amendment
that is either minimalist or purely symbolic - Constitutional recognition
must be both substantive and practical. 2

Further to this, we are in support of the proposed reforms because they
will empower our people to take responsibility in our own affairs. This
aligns with our ‘empowerment’ agenda – enabling our local community
to make local decisions. A First Nations voice should be designed in
collaboration with Indigenous people ensuring that it supports regional
and local empowerment.

Further work must now be done to put forward the key priorities as
outlined in the Uluru Statement and the Referendum Council’s report,
namely: a constitutionally guaranteed voice for the First Nations, a
Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling,
and a Declaration of Recognition.

Barang Regional Alliance doubts that the sequencing of the current
voice to government will reflect what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people have been asking for. We support change, in the form of both
constitutional recognition and legislative backing, acknowledging that
both are required to enable a partnership. This will serve to solve the
problems that both governments and Indigenous people agree require
solutions, and can be enacted in legislation, so that subsequent changes
to the details of the Voice model are able to make as required.

2
https://barang.org.au/barang- submission-to -reform- commitee/

-5-
WHO WE REPRESENT - OUR REGION:
DARKINJUNG COUNTRY - THE NSW CENTRAL
COAST ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY

The Darkinjung (Central Coast) region is home to the Darkinyung
Aboriginal nation. The Darkinjung region is bound by the southern end
of Lake Macquarie (Lake Awaba) to the North, The McDonald River
and Wollombi (up to the sacred Mountain of Yengo and including the
Watagan mountains) in the West, the Pacific Ocean to the East, and the
Hawkesbury River (Deerubbin) to the South. This region is extremely
unique, with one of the highest densities of culturally significant sites in
Australia, with over 2,985 registered sites. 3

There are many different kinds of totems (skin, clan and personal) that
relate to the Central Coast. Many of which are able to be seen in our
cultural sites and local rock art which has been preserved in a pristine
manner due to our sandstone country.4

OUR POPULATION

The largest, youngest, and fastest growing populations of Aboriginal
people in the country. The ABS population growth figures for the Central
Coast since 2006 are as shown:

2006: 6,455 (2.1% of population)
2011: 9,021 (2.8%) +2,566 40% growth
2016: 12,485 (3.8%) +3,464 38% growth

At the 2016 Census, the Central Coast region boasts an Aboriginal
population of 12,485 people (3rd in size only to Western Sydney and
Illawarra Wingecarribee), or 3.8% of the region’s total population (327,736).
Conveying a growth of 3,470 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
living on Darkinjung Land from 2011 to 2016 (per ABS census data).
Moreover, this 38% increase, coupled with increased housing prices in
metro areas provides evidence that more people are moving to the Coast
and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population on the Central
Coast will continue to grow, at rates higher than the national average.
Furthermore, one of the defining features of the Aboriginal population
on the Central Coast is the low median age, with 56% of the population
surveyed in the last census under the age of 24.

3
https: //www.darkinjung.com. au/culture -and-heritage/
4
https://www.darkinjung.com.au/culture -and-heritage/

-6-
Characteristics of Population Growth 2011 - 2016

Growth of Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Population

Barang Regional Alliance 2011 – 2016
3,470 people (38%)

Elsewhere in Other
NSW 1,335 1,890

55% 38%

7%

Elsewhere
255

1,335 residence in 2016 reported living elsewhere in NSW in 2011, the
largest proportion came from Blacktown (11%).

-7-
OUR HISTORY

Darkinjung Country and The Central Coast boasts 11,000 years of rich
Aboriginal heritage with evidence of rock engravings, sandstone shelters,
axe grinding grooves and shell middens. However, despite being a region
of considerable cultural significance, our community has a long history
of being neglected, overlooked and under-represented by government,
due to our location. Governing bodies have historically placed the Central
Coast into either the Greater-Hunter, or conversely, the Greater-Sydney
boundaries and this has been, and continues to be, at the detriment of
our community. Only due to our history of strong activism has the Central
Coast been able to achieve opportunities of self-determination.

BARANG’S HISTORY

Coming together in 2013 Barang Regional Alliance formed a centralised
voice for the Aboriginal organisations who provide service to our
community. The alliance enabled the Aboriginal Community Controlled
Organisations on the Central Coast to work in partnership and
collaboration with little to no duplication of service:

• Bara Barang: Cultural employment, training and career pathway programs

• Bungree Aboriginal Association: Aboriginal Housing, Education Gaps and
Intensive Family Based Support

• Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council: Cultural heritage and protection,
land management and preservation

• Gudjagang Ngara Li-dhi Aboriginal Corporation: Early Intervention and
cultural connections

• Mingaletta Aboriginal Corporation: Community space, Groupwork, family
and cultural support.

• NAISDA Dance College – National Aboriginal dance college

• Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation (The Glen) – Men’s residential alcohol and
drugs rehab

• Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre – Holistic culturally based
healthcare

-8-
BARANG’S HISTORY (CONTINUED)

Barang Regional Alliance has the capacity and capability, as well as the
endorsement of our community, to transition to the new arrangements
expediently.

CENTRAL COAST
EXISTING GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE

EMPOWERED LOCAL DECISION
COMMUNITIES MAKING

COMMONWEALTH STATE
FUNDED INITIATIVE FUNDED INITIATIVE

Constituted government structure with a collective of seven Aboriginal
organisations located on the Central Coast. Our membership is inclusive
of associate membership, independent Directors and Youth Directors.

WHY IS THE CENTRAL COAST UNIQUE?

ONE LOCAL ONE LOCAL ONE LOCAL ONE LOCAL
ABORIGINAL ABORIGINAL HEALTH GOVERNMENT
LAND COUNCIL MEDICAL DISTRICT AREA
SERVICE

-9-
BARANG’S GOVERNMENT JOURNEY

• In May 2016, Barang Regional Alliance was recognised and funded by
the Commonwealth Government to be included as 1 of 10 Empowered
Communities (EC) Regions. This was shortly followed by New South
Wales Government recognising and funding Barang to be included
as 1 of 10 Local Decision Making (LDM) Regions - making the Central
Coast the sole region in Australia working in partnership with State
and Federal Governments.

• Beginning in 2017, and continuing to date, Barang has conducted
extensive and ongoing, community consultation, surveys, and
workshops to identify our regional priorities. ‘Empowered Youth’ is
seen as our initial priority for our regional development agenda.

• April 2018 saw Barang formally lodge a ‘Statement of Claim’ which
both Commonwealth and NSW Governments began the process
of negotiation on agreements to identify gaps and better meet the
needs and services delivered to the local Aboriginal community
including an increase in productivity.

• December 2018 saw Barang co-ordinate decision-making
representation from the three tiers of Government to come together
on Darkinjung country to participate in a Cultural Immersion. This
process signified our commitment to the process of negotiation
– to work with Government and assist them to develop a deeper
understanding of the unique needs and regional requirements of our
Aboriginal community here on the Central Coast.

• November 2018, Barang played a lead role in the development of
the First Tripartite Partnership Table proposing the development of
Aboriginal Community Hubs across the Central Coast region.

• Between 2018 and 2021 Barang Regional Alliance further facilitated
the fostering of a deeper relationship with government through the
establishment of community panels and the roll out of Joint Decision
Making, Involvement in the establishment and ongoing participation
in the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Regional Alliances, the co-
ordination of the Healing Forum.

• In June 2018 Barang made its first submission to the Joint Select
Committee on Constitutional Recognition outlining our communities’
position in relation to this.

• February 2019 saw Barang host the first ‘Empower Youth’ Summit
– enabling approx. 150 local Aboriginal young people to have their
voices, views and opinions amplified and included in relation to
regional decision making.

- 10 -
BARANG’S GOVERNMENT JOURNEY (CONTINUED)

• March 2020 saw Barang host the second “Empower Youth” Summit
– enabling approx. 120 local Aboriginal Young People to have their
voices, views and opinions again amplified and included in relation to
regional decision making.

• April 2020 saw the development of Barang’s Regional Youth Strategy
– enabling the voices of our youth directly to Government through the
process of negotiation.

• August 2020 saw the formal establishment of ‘Ngiyang Wayama’ – the
first Aboriginal led and community controlled Aboriginal Regional
Data Network in the country, involving collaboration and support with
state, federal and regional agencies (both Government and Non-
Government), academic institutions, think tanks in addition to ACCO’s,
local services and grass roots community members.

• December 2020 Barang made a submission to the Joint Select
Committee on Indigenous Economic participation.

• Despite these, and many other significant gains our community
here on the Central Coast was again ignored as a potential region for
the initial Community Voice Consultations. It was not until Barang
Regional Alliance led the multitude of local voices in demanding a
consultation for our community. This consultation, eventually held
in March 2021, resulted in the highest attendance of community
members, to date, of all consultations, across the country.

Barang Regional Alliance has both the capacity and relationships to
enable ongoing work in conjunction with our local community, the
New South Wales Government, and the Commonwealth Government,
providing further reasoning for the transition of Barang into the proposed
Regional Voice Framework.

- 11 -
OUR COMMUNITIES STRENGTHS

As previously highlighted, the Central Coast has a robust and connected
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, that is both large and
dynamic. In addition, we have an expected Aboriginal population growth
that far exceeds the majority of other established other Aboriginal regions
across Australia. A significant point of distinction is our connected
Aboriginal service system - We have one Aboriginal Medical Service (Yerin
Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services Ltd), one Local Health District
(Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit), one Local Aboriginal Land Council
(Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council), one Local Government Area
(Central Coast Council) and one Aboriginal Regional Representative
Structure in place (Barang Regional Alliance). Barang Regional Alliance
has fostered ongoing relationships with Local, State and Federal Members
of Parliament. Additionally, Barang Regional Alliance has the majority of
Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the Central Coast as
part of its opt in base.

Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Population by SAS 2016
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400
Avoca Beach - Copacabana
Box Head - MacMasters Beach
Calga - Kulnura
Erina - Green Point
Gosford - Springfield
Kariong
Kincumber - Picketts Valley
Narara
Niagara Park - Lisarow
Point Clare - Koolewong
Saratoga - Davistown
Terrigal - North Avoca
Umina - Booker Bay - Patonga
Wamberal - Forresters Beach
Woy Woy - Blackwall
Wyoming
Bateau Bay - Killarney Vale
Blue Haven - San Remo
Budgewoi - Buff Point - Halekulani
Chittaway Bay - Tumbi Umbi
Gorokan - Kanwal - Charmhaven
Jilliby - Yarramalong
Lake Munmorah - Mannering Park
Ourimbah - Fountaindale
Summerland Point - Gwandalan
The Entrance
Toukley - Norah Head
Tuggerah - Kangy Angy
Warnevale - Wadalba
Wyong

879 - 1,245
644 - 879

383 - 644
212 - 383
87 - 212

- 12 -
BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE

Barang Regional Alliance is comprised of the following local Aboriginal
Organisations:
• Bara Barang Corporation
• Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council
• Gudjagang Ngara Li-dhi Aboriginal Corporation (GNL)
• Mingaletta Aboriginal Corporation
• NAISDA Dance College
• Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre
• Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation (The Glen Centre)

In addition to the core organisational membership, we have Associate
membership for:
• Central Coast Community Legal Centre

The governance makeup of Barang Regional Alliance also enables
representation from independent community members, and youth
directors.

Barang Regional Alliance is mandated to deliver Aboriginal community-
led decision-making, working in partnership with government to deliver
on our Regional Development Agenda, namely:
• Right to cultural learning
• Regional Aboriginal Data Network
• Mental health
• Economic pathways
• Youth leadership & school transitions.

Our community has made it clear that the focus of our engagement with
governments should involve:
• Co-design and tailored programs and services to address
community priorities.
• Hold service providers accountable and re-direct government
funding through Joint Decision-Making processes to ensure
programs and initiatives meet Aboriginal community needs.
• Enable regional investments informed by community voice
(surveys) and high-quality data, and foster coordination and
collaboration in service delivery.

- 13 -
HOW BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE DRIVES
REFORM AND SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY

Barang Regional Alliance is the voice of our community - enabling
us to work together in partnership with government and other key
stakeholders to reform the ways that Indigenous policies and programs
are designed and delivered for our community. We are recognised by
our local community as their regional voice, and have had 8 years of
successful operation, negotiation and representation.

As a result of this, the community has seen significant success in the
following areas:
• Data access
• Mapping services and funding streams
• Engaging with the community to co-ordinate planning
• Developing our regional priorities
• Tripartite joint decision making about policies and funding relevant
to the Central Coast region
• Implementing with the support of both NSW and Commonwealth
governments.

These things offer the type of opportunities for a comprehensive regional
approach to closing the gap on Indigenous disparity as envisaged in the
EC design model, as well as the OCHRE policy through NSW government
– as we understand it, the interim report on the Voice to government
suggests that transitions to this structure would further enhance these
efforts and therefore reiterate the need for the Central Coast to be
involved as a region.

To further support this, the Interim Report suggests that; New South
Wales Local Decision Making and Empowered Communities regions are
already working in a way similar to that envisaged for Local and Regional
Voices and will be well positioned to transition to local and regional
voice arrangements (noting they currently do not incorporate all tiers of
government). 5

This is further supported by the interim report’s comments regarding
places existing mechanisms/governance arrangements. We believe that
there would be an opportunity to enhance or expand what is in place –
working with our community.6

5
https: //voice.niaa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021- 02/indigenous-voice - codesign-process-interim-report-2020.pdf page 93.
6
https: //voice.niaa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021- 02/indigenous-voice - codesign-process-interim-report-2020.pdf

- 14 -
THE STRENGTH OF THE EC FRAMEWORK
ALONGSIDE THE NSW GOVERNMENTS LDM

The Empowered Communities Design Report (2015) identified a number
of systemic policy issues that continue to undermine funding productivity
and mitigate against closing the gap on Indigenous disparity. Ultimately,
this has ensured that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have not
been able to address or participate in closing the gap.

They include:
• Expenditure without outcomes.
• An almost entirely supply driven approach, with decisions made far
away from the regions and with little or no demand side input from
Indigenous people.
• A large industry with vested interests servicing Indigenous
dysfunction and disadvantage.
• Too much red tape and layers of bureaucracy before funding hits the
ground.
• An ongoing lack of transparency and cohesion around expenditure in
regions and communities that prevents good investment decisions
from being made.

It is our view, backed by Empowered Communities, that strong
partnerships with government enabling access to the data and
information that regions need to build and implement Regional Planning
as well as share decision making with government will support to
systemic change over time.

REGION LEAD DESIGN

The Interim Report states that it is intended that the Voice arrangements
will build on and strengthen existing Indigenous governance. For our
region, our biggest learnings have been that strong regional governance
is developed from a foundation involving local, place based, established
Indigenous organisations, who are engaged in direct services to the
community and who are best placed to drive change. Organisations such
as those that make up the Opt-In base for Barang Regional Alliance are the
key to activating economic and social development, delivering culturally
appropriate services, and creating jobs for Indigenous people on the
Central Coast. This is well supported by the submissions provided by both
Empowered Communities and Jawun, to the Interim Report on the Voice.

- 15 -
5 YEARS OF LEARNING

There are significant opportunities in learning from our ongoing
involvement and participation in the reform journey for the Aboriginal
community on the Central Coast.

The Central Coast of NSW is the fastest growing Aboriginal region in
Australia, with a rapidly increasing youth demographic - hence Barang’s
focus on young people and economic development.

Empowered Communities is Indigenous designed and led while Local
Decision Making was designed by the NSW Government, in collaboration
with Indigenous people in regions. There is much common ground,
with both models supporting co-ordinated regional negotiations to
improve services and investments that target priority needs identified by
community, and both are in alignment with regional development plans.

Having both governments ‘signed up’ as envisioned in the Empowered
Communities design framework presents a challenge in ‘harmonising’
all of the partners, capitalising on what each can contribute and the
learnings from that.

The Central Coast has fears that with the introduction of the Voice work,
organisations and/or structures, such as Barang Regional Alliance will be
directly impacted, removing much needed funding that has allowed us to
leverage communities’ ideas and priorities in a coordinated manner over
the last 5 years.

THE VOICE REGIONS

Under the current proposal in the Interim Voice report, it is suggested that
there will be a capping for the number of Local and Regional Voices at
around the “upper limit” of 35 regions.

Barang Regional Alliance has played a lead role in the coordination of
community consultations. Throughout these consultations, our community
has made it abundantly clear that the fiscal position weighs more heavily on
the decision for a number of regions instead of ensuring true representation.

We support our Aboriginal Community, and the wider Aboriginal community
across Australia, and their position7 on pushing for an increase of regions to
ensure that communities and regions like the Central Coast have a “Voice”
and are adequately represented. Failure to do so will force regions together
in situations where there is no natural regional affiliation. This will inevitably
lead to conflict and difficulties that will delay progress, preventing the very
outcomes and productivity gains envisaged under the Voice.

7
Central Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community submission to the Indigenous Voice process

- 16 -
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES

Having the two key levels of government committed to working with
our region adds significant grunt to progressing our local development
agenda. Without the involvement and funding provided through the
Local Decision Making and Empowered Communities funding, the
Central Coast would have been continued on its trajectory of being
overlooked and therefore provide no alternative to the experience of
significantly high levels of disadvantage.

In our opinion, both governments provide opportunities for a
comprehensive regional approach to Closing The Gap on Indigenous
disparity envisaged in the Empowered Communities design model, and
now under the new proposed structure of a “Voice”.

An example of Barang’s successes is the funding of their first Youth Hub
proposal. One of our Opt In organisations, Gudjagang Ngara Li-dhi will
implement this proposal with $0.5m funding from NSW Department of
Communities and Justice. Both State and Commonwealth Governments
have assisted in the development of the model and the pursuit of funding
in collaboration with Barang.

NGIYANG WAYAMA

Ngiyang Wayama is a Darkinyung Aboriginal language word (meaning
‘We All Tell’) which has been generously gifted to the Central Coast
Aboriginal Data Network.

The mandate of Ngiyang Wayama is to collectively enable Aboriginal
people on the Central Coast to discuss matters relating to data access,
build local capacity in relation to data and achieve Aboriginal data
sovereignty on the Central Coast. Our regional Aboriginal Data Network
has established and are implementing a Central Coast Regional
Aboriginal Data Strategy to achieve the network’s target outcomes of:
• Identifying regional data needs – including data collection, access,
and management
• Developing data skills capacity within the region
• Establishing a regional data set

The overarching objective of our network is to fulfil our rights to the
access and use of data pertaining to Aboriginal people on the Central
Coast, supported by the skills, capacity and partnerships required to
manage this regional data set.

- 17 -
NGIYANG WAYAMA (CONTINUED)

Barang’s has led the way with the development of our regional network
through consecutive annual face-to-face surveys with our Aboriginal
community members as well as the coordination, implementation and
driving of the Data Network.

The annual face to face surveys is used as a means to identify priorities
across our region. The results have been entered into Survey Monkey
to generate data and to reveal important patterns, such as the clearly
different priorities of the younger aged cohorts which has driven the
youth focus and priorities on the region.

“At all times, our role is to make sure the community is
supported. We focus on providing opportunities for community
to connect, so this might be through forums and workshops. We
test everything with community, including the data”.
– Manager, Community Engagement and Partnerships

As detailed in the Empowered Communities submission on the Voice -
The Central Coast Community has determined a set of success measures
that reflect our priorities and are community driven and strengths based.
Over time this will build a picture of what is contributing to change, and
we can unpick areas that need adapting or reassessing. Organisations
across the Central Coast have worked collectively contribute to the
measurement of success measures and we now have data sharing.

Through Empowered Communities and Local Decision Making
in our region, we have been able to access and govern data at a
place-based level like never before. We have launched the Ngiyang
Wayama Data Network and we are now embedding community
derived indicators into our reporting frameworks.

- 18 -
KEY LEARNINGS FOR BARANG INCLUDE

• A consistent approach is required to regional investment that is
actively supported by government at all levels. Having the relevant
State Government as well as Commonwealth (NIAA) representatives
at the formal (Accord) NSW Local Decision-Making meetings
has been extremely useful in ensuring that Commonwealth and
State investment is not duplicated and is directed to clear areas of
community need.
• Lead times for partnership tables need to acknowledge the time
required to ensure that a strong community voice is included in
strategy setting.
• Capacity building and learning for community members have been
a key feature emerging from the work with both governments.
Importantly, the local Indigenous community is gaining an insight
into the workings of government at different levels and has the
opportunity to influence investment from both governments in
the region. Given the very limited Indigenous Advancement Strategy
funding on the Central Coast, the community is eager to be able
to test funding with DSS or Health to implement their priorities
more broadly.
• Trust is an essential ingredient in the partnership, and this takes time
to build, both between Indigenous people and government, and
between the two levels of government, so that working together
becomes the norm.

When it comes to such big systems change, some things just need to
be mandated. We needed Partnership Tables to be a formal pathway
to bring the Commonwealth and the State together. We are only
beginning to get some traction on the idea of a Partnership Table in
our region now.

Director - Barang Regional Alliance
Empowered Communities, Barang Regional Alliance,
Central Coast NSW

- 19 -
PRINCIPLES BASED FRAMEWORK: ADAPTING TO
NEW MODELS

Barang Regional Alliance have a shared set of principles based on the
following views:
• Community and Government programs must support Aboriginal-
led decision making.
• Innovation is essential and will be built into program design – we
will learn and adapt as we go.
• Sharing good practices and ensuring results are delivered and
celebrated.

For the mutual benefit of our Central Coast Aboriginal community, we
need Government to partner with us – to be enablers in reform because
we are in this together. We believe that structural reform requires that all
levels of Government work with us to deliver on our priorities.

Additionally, there are four key development objectives that inform our
Regional Development Domains, these are:
• Structural reform.
• Aboriginal-led decision making and partnerships.
• Tailored services based on need.
• Regionally driven investment.

BARANG REGIONAL ALLIANCE – EMPOWERMENT
PRINCIPLES

Further to this Barang Regional Alliance has, for over 5 years, ensured
that our interactions with all levels of government consider this
principled approach.

These Principles embody the spirit and substance of the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous.

Peoples (UNDRIP).8 They have been developed through an understanding
that a fundamental shift is required in policy approaches towards
Aboriginal communities from a narrow service delivery focus to one
based on a development approach. It is understood that to be effective,
these Principles require a corresponding commitment from government
to provide an enabling environment to properly support and resource
action under the Principles.

8
https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/un- declaration-rights-indigenous-peoples-1

- 20 -
REPRESENTATIVE STRUCTURES: BUILDING ON
EXISTING ARRANGEMENTS

The interim report on the Indigenous Voice to government states that
there would be no set structure for a Local and Regional Voice, instead,
suggesting that different regions would be in a position to design or set
their structures based on their understanding of what best works for
their local community.

For our community, here on Darkinjung country, this “structure” is
through the representative model of Barang Regional Alliance. Largely,
our model incorporates the principles-based framework and, is best
placed to transition over to target the needs of the Voice arrangements,
once established.

Barang Regional Alliance has been working under a principle-based
approach since its inception. Under the new proposed principles-
based framework, our previous experience would enable us to adopt
and transition to not only meet the needs of the voice, but also, most
importantly, remain accountable to our community on the Central Coast.

OUR STRUCTURE AND ABILITY TO TRANSITION

Barang is a not-for-profit public company, limited by guarantee, and
registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) since 26 August 2015.

We underwent a constitutional review, in 2018, making Barang Regional
Alliance more inclusive of independent community and associates,
which was at the request of our community.

As a result of that request a number of changes to our constitution
were enacted, in March 2019, serving to broaden and strengthening
our community representation and accountability at the Board level.
These changes included the creation of two independent and Youth
Director positions.

- 21 -
OUR STRUCTURE AND ABILITY TO TRANSITION
(CONTINUED)

Currently, the Barang board is comprised of Appointed Directors from
member organisations, Independent community members Youth, as
well as Optional Observers and Associate Members.

Our governance and partnership arrangement are through an opt-in
basis, which involves key local organisations and encourages broad
participation in the process.

We have structures in place regulating issues including, but not limited
to, codes of conduct, confidentiality and non-disclosure.

Barang Regional Alliance was established in 2016 to
facilitate and drive reforms. We continue to build our
opt-in base and our community membership. Barang
member orgs work together to share experiences and
knowledge and develop solutions to the problems and
challenges we face.

EC created an opportunity for the 12.5k Aboriginal
community members on the Central Coast to participate
in Commonwealth and State dialogues, which we have
generally been excluded from due to being located
between Newcastle and Sydney, but not having
connection to either. We must make sure in the transition
to the Voice model, that these hard-won gains are not lost.

- 22 -
CONCLUSION

Barang Regional Alliance Ltd has been the backbone organisation for
both Empowered Communities (Commonwealth) and Local Decision
Making (NSW) since 2017. To date, we are the only Empowered
Communities region to have formal Commonwealth and State
Government support, and it is our understanding that both governments
should aim to work together with our existing Indigenous leadership on
the Central Coast.

Having both governments ‘signed up’, as envisioned in the Empowered
Communities design framework, presents significant opportunities for
Barang. The challenge is in ‘harmonising’ all of the partners, capitalising
on what each can contribute and the learnings from that.

In this partnership, trust is THE essential ingredient. This requires time; to
build relationships, both between Indigenous people and government,
and between the two levels of government with the overarching goal of
collaborative working relationships that are both fruitful and harmonious.

Barang Regional Alliance would welcome the opportunity to meet with
representatives of the committee and we are happy to discuss this
submission further should this be required.

- 23 -