The Northern Region Aboriginal Alliance (NRAA) committee met in Tenterfield on Tuesday, October 16 to progress its efforts to arrive at agreement with the NSW Government on improving education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW and to enhance service accountability.
The meeting followed a community consultation session the evening prior, to gather feedback on the government services the Tenterfield aboriginal community feels are lacking. Alliance chairperson Mark Davies said local issues included difficulties in accessing specialist medical services and transportation.
This is the first time in history that we’re negotiating instead of the government dictating.- NRAA chair Mark Davies
Although the NRAA is taking a regional approach to problem-solving, Mr Davies said the issues raised are typical of those the committee is hearing across its footprint, which stretches from Singleton to Tenterfield.
The Alliance grew out of the state government’s 2014 OCHRE (Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment) initiative, seeking to formulate a community-focused strategic plan for its aboriginal affairs.
The NRAA is the local decision-making body for this area under the OCHRE project, comprising representatives from local aboriginal land councils and from the fields of:
Mr Davies described the NRAA as a community-voiced organisation negotiating better service delivery outcomes for aboriginal people.
The OCRE aim is to arrive at five accords (education, economic development, housing, health and justice) signed by the state government and community representatives, addressing the issues identified by communities. Mr Davies said health and justice accords are currently being negotiated, while work continues on the remaining three.
He hopes to see all five accords finalised before the March state elections.
The outcomes he’s anticipating are better coordination of service delivery after gaps and duplications are identified, with government and service delivery organisations held more accountable and services delivered equally across the region. He’s also hoping to see more jobs and economic opportunities for aboriginal people.
“Whether you’re a small community or a big community, you should have access to services,” Mr Davies said. “Every voice should be heard.
“We aiming at a better relationship between aborigines and the government. This is the first time in history that we’re negotiating instead of the government dictating.
“We’re sitting down and co-designing these accords.”
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