East Arnhem Shire Transition Committee by lindash


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                                    MEETING No.3


Date:        Friday, 17 August 2007         Time:     10:00 am
Venue:       Alcan Conference Room – Community Affairs

1       Welcome, Introductions, Apologies, Housekeeping

Micky Wunungmurra (Acting Chair) - appointed in the absence of Chair John Weluk and
Vice Chair Maratja Dhamarrandji.

ATTENDEES: (Committee Members in bold)
Milingimbi Council    Richard Stewart
Ramingining Council   Richard Bandalil
                      Suzanah Kuzio
Ramingining Homelands Roy Ruwarrina
                      Peter Fisher
Galiwinku Council     Charles Yunupingu
                      Peter Alleman
Marthakal Homelands   Mavis Danganbarr
                      David Yangarriny
Gapuwiyak Council     Micky Wunungmurra
                      Kate Monger
Yirrkala Council      Adrian Rota
Laynhapuy             Rick Norton
Marngarr Council      Richard Humpreys
Angurugu Council
Umbakumba Council
LGANT                 Sue Davey: Human Resources Services Manager
DLGHS                 Nick Scarvelis: Executive Director Local Government
                      Bill Stuchberry: Senior Director Local Government
                      Dale Keehne: Development Coordinator, East Arnhem
                      Michelle Clarke: Development Coord., Groote Eylandt
                      Julia Knight: Community Development Officer
Galiwinku Council        Maratja Dhamarrandji
Ramingining Council      John Weluk
Yirrkala Council         Timmy Burarrwanga
Laynhapuy                Wali Wunungmurra
Marngarr Council         Galarrwuy Yunupingu
ALC                      Ross Hebblewhite
Angurugu Council         Joaz Wurramara
(unable to fly in due to Greg Arnott
bad weather)
Umbakumba Council        Eddie Mamarika
(unable to fly in due to Paul Williams
bad weather)
DLGHS                    Maurie Burke
                         Kate Peake
                         Stephen Waterbury

2     Minutes of Previous Meeting and Issues

Approval of Minutes EA STC 2 May 2007 –
Moved: Charles Yunupingu
Seconded: Micky Wunungmurra

Dale Keehne advised that as per the committee’s recommendations from the last meeting,
the Advisory Board had signed off on the boundaries for both the East Arnhem Shire and
the 4 ward model incorporating equal representation by 3 councillors per ward.

3         o Australian Government Intervention & Shire Reform
          o Role of Local Boards
          o Planning for the Future

Nick Scarvelis prefaced an open discussion on the Australian Government Intervention
and Local Government Reform with the following comments:

•   Northern Territory Government (NTG) does not want bush communities to be second
    class in terms of service provision or local governance. The primary aim of the reform
    process is about ensuring a greater and more equitable distribution of services in
    remote communities. The NT Local Govt Reform process is not about land tenure or
    the disruption of culture in communities.
•   The Australian Government (AG) supports the Shire model and has indicated that they
    do not want to interfere with the Shire’s governance or service provision role past the
    immediate intervention stage.
•   The AG has indicated that they intend to continue funding programs the region has
    been used to getting.
•   AG Business Managers will not be taking over from CEO’s if they are working towards
    the Shire model of governance/service delivery.
•   Feedback from other communities indicates that the newly appointed AG Business
    Managers are working cooperatively with the NTG.
•   Nick was concerned that there was no representation by the ICC at today’s meeting
    and stated that he would be making mention of this fact to the relevant personnel on
    his return to Darwin.
•   Bill Stuchberry noted that had just received a phone message indicating that the AG
    Intervention legislation had been passed and was now law.

Micky Wunungmurra (Chair) – Open Discussion

Peter Alleman noted that the loss of CDEP would have financial ramifications for the Shire
and queried whether or not this had been acknowledged by the NTG. Nick advised that it
certainly had been acknowledged and that departmental staff (both NTG and AG) were
currently looking at how many CDEP positions were in fact ‘real’ jobs. The AG has already
been working on determining additional positions within the health and education sectors
that should be fully funded rather than classified as CDEP with top up. He also noted that
it was likely that most CDEP’s would continue in some form through to June ’08. It was
acknowledged that many AG services are currently under funded and that to achieve the
600 or more positions identified by the LGANT study (completed for DEWR last year)
would require additional funding. Some discussions have already taken place regarding
the possibility of converting some of the current CDEP funding into some type of block
funding to help fund new positions.

It was acknowledged that whilst there would be more job opportunities within the Shire
there was still a significant shortfall given the number of people currently on CDEP. Lifting
the Remote Are Exemption means that all unemployed people on communities will have to
be involved in some sort of activity such as Work for the Dole or STEP (Structured
Training and Employment Program), and that it is expected that Local Government will be
host for such and will provide the job opportunities. It was noted that these positions
should not just be limited to menial jobs but should be more inclined towards capacity
building positions. Adrian Rota and others also noted that many CDEP participants are
normally on sickness or disability benefits and that it was unlikely that the Shires would
have the capacity to provide employment opportunities for them. Nick Scarvelis noted that
people with disabilities should be provided specific support from DEWR to get work in the
Shires and other work.

Suzanah Kuzio and other members noted that the lack of dollars for
supervision/management under Work for the Dole would prove problematic for Councils,
especially given the level of supervision required due to the low literacy levels of
participants. Nick noted that planning for the Shires has always been based on the
number of positions and amount of funding required to do the work, not what CDEP is
required. Work for the Dole then becomes a value adding exercise rather than the basis of
how Councils function.

Adrian Rota raised the issue of assets, noting that he has been advised by the AG that
under the new legislation all AG funded assets will be handed over to IBA (Indigenous
Business Australia), then leased back to communities. Nick noted that it was his
understanding that assets required to maintain service delivery will be passed over to the
Shires. Peter Alleman noted that his advice was that the AG Business Managers will not
only have control over assets, but will have the authority to direct how they should be
used. Nick noted that whilst this was technically the case under the AG legislation, it was
not the AG’s intention to do so. Adrian voiced his concern that Mal Brough has indicated
that the AG will not take any responsibility for decisions Business Mangers make that may
have adverse consequences for business concerns within communities.

Mavis Danganbarr asked about the future of homelands. Nick suggested more information
about the status of homelands will be forthcoming from the AG in about 6 months time. At
this stage it is expected that the AG will look towards the Shires to auspice funding for
homelands. Regional Management Plans will include agreements between homelands
and Shires to continue as service providers in homelands. NTG is unlikely to take on any
more responsibility for homelands/outstations without an increase in funding.

Peter Fisher expressed his concern about the future of homelands. Nick noted that he
could not provide any advice on this matter given the ongoing issues between the NTG
and AG regarding funding for homelands. NTG is not prepared to take on homelands until
they are brought up to scratch. Members expressed concern that the AG is working
towards getting people off homelands and back into the main communities.

Adrian Rota asked when Councils could expect to receive their 07/08 allocation of NT Ops
and FAA funding. Bill advised that all Councils will receive their funding next month.
Adrian also asked about transitional arrangements regarding the winding up of
associations and financial liabilities that go beyond 1 July 08. Bill advised that once the
Shire CEO’s and Corporate Services Directors have been appointed (positions to be
advertised in September with CEO’s/Corporate Services Directors to start operating as of
Jan 08), they will have the power to establish bank accounts etc to enable the transition of
financial arrangements prior to 1 July 08. Once the Transition Bill is in place (scheduled to
go before cabinet later this month), Neil Murray will begin negotiations with Councils
regarding things such as insurance, bank accounts, assets, liabilities etc. In the interim,
Councils should renew leases/insurance policies etc as required.

Kate Monger asked what would happen to unexpended funds and/or funding that Councils
have set aside for particular projects. Nick advised that the Minister has indicated that any
monies identified for specific purposes will be quarantined and used for that purpose, and
will not just be added to the general pool of Shire funding.

Adrian Rota asked what would happen to businesses under the Shire – for example the
Buku Arts Centre in Yirrkala. Bill noted that if businesses could function independently of
Council then they would be free to do so. However, research to date indicated that most
were quasi rather than real, stand alone businesses. As such it was expected that initially
they would come under the umbrella of the Shire. It was further expected that DBERD
would provide the necessary expertise to assist them to become independently viable, at
which time they could be hived off from the Shire. Having said that, options about how
businesses should be treated would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Peter Alleman noted that once Association Councils become Community Government
Councils they will lose their PBI status which will have a financial impact on their
operations. Bill advised that the NTG is currently negotiating with the ATO on this point
and the expectation was that PBI status will be maintained through to 1 July ’08.

Adrian Rota asked what was going to happen about housing management, repairs &
maintenance and construction. Nick advised that it was NTG’s intention that Territory
Housing would be responsible for the management of all housing stock both public and
indigenous. However it was still unclear whether or not IBA would take on the repairs and
maintenance as well as construction.

Peter Alleman queried the suggestion that community members will be required to pay
commercial rents in the future. Nick advised that it was certainly the intention of both the
AG and NTG that community members will be expected to pay rent at a similar rate to that
of other public housing tenants. It was also pointed out that this would require that houses
were brought up to an acceptable standard first.

Richard Humpreys asked about the federally funded referendums re Council
amalgamations. Nick advised that it was his understanding that this was specific to
Queensland, and that to make such referendums available to NT Councils would run
counter to the new AG legislation.

Suzanah Kuzio asked if Community Managers will take the place of Council CEO’s in the
Shire. Bill advised that this was the intention; however it may be the case that some
Community Managers may look after more than one community. Bill referred members to
the draft organisational structure for the Shire.

Adrian Rota asked whether or not there were any further developments regarding the
Shire Headquarters. Nick suggested that Yirrkala was well placed for such; however other
members noted that Nhulunbuy would be preferable as it was seen to be neutral territory.
The general feeling amongst members was that the Shire HQ should not be placed in any
particular community, and that to do so could cause problems between clan groups across
the region.

Following a short break Nick gave a presentation on the Role of Local Boards and Future
Planning – see attached power point presentation.

4      Shire Employment Consultation

Sue Davey gave a presentation on the Shire Employment Consultations to be undertaken
by LGANT and covered the following points:

•   LGANT will visit every community and conduct employment workshops with all Council
    staff – homelands will not be included at this stage as they will not be a part of the new
    Shires. The workshops will include one-on-one discussions with individual staff
    members to ascertain their preferences in terms of future employment options. This
    data will then be passed on to the Shire CEO’s to enable them to match existing staff
    with identified positions within the Shire.
•   In order to ensure a smooth transition, current employment contracts can be extended
    through to 1 July ’09. After this date it will be up to each Shire to determine whether or
    not there is any need for redundancies – reasonable redundancy packages will be
    negotiated as required. However, it was noted that it was not envisaged that there
    would be a need for any amount of redundancies as it was unlikely that there will be
    sufficient staff from existing Councils to fill all of the positions required within the Shires.
    A more likely scenario is that there will be a need to amend some existing position
    descriptions to more adequately reflect the needs of the Shire.
•   It is expected that the Shires will employ people against relevant awards/industry
    standards, incorporating such provisions as NT Remote Award rates. It was
    acknowledged that awards represent a safety net or minimum wage. As is the case
    generally across the NT there was considerable variation from one community to the
    next when it came to pay scales for particular positions.
•   Given the number of Councils to be consulted, Sue suggested that any Councils who
    had particular issues to contact her on 0411 668 051.

Micky Wunungmurra (Chair) – Open Discussion

Suzanah Kuzio asked whether or not Council staff currently on CDEP top up would be
included in the employment consultation. Sue advised that they would be consulted, but
DEWR has the primary role of assisting CDEP participants to shift into STEP positions and
on to full time work.

Dale Keehne advised that the DLGHS regional office is liaising with DEWR regional staff
to identify and support CDEP participants who can move into real paid jobs in the Shire.

Rick Norton queried whether or not there would be in built review mechanisms for CEO’s
who lack prior knowledge of the region etc. Nick assured members employment contracts
for CEO’s would certainly be subject to stringent on-going assessment procedures.

Peter Alleman queried whether or not he can go ahead and extend staff contracts through
to July ’09. Sue advised that whilst he could, members needed to be clear about the fact
that after 1 July ’08 all positions will come under the Shire and staff need to acknowledge
that they will need to be flexible in terms of the exact nature of their position beyond this

Richard asked whether or not staff would maintain their current conditions – such as
housing, vehicle usage, subsidized electricity etc. Sue advised that staff conditions would
remain as they are until 1 July ’09 when they will be reviewed by the Shire – it being
expected that the Shire will want to ensure similar conditions for all staff across the region.
Whilst acknowledging there will undoubtedly be some upheavals when it comes to
staffing/conditions etc, it is unlikely that there will any substantial loss of current
entitlements which tend to be a feature of remote area awards.

Suzanah Kuzio queried what was going to be done about the lack of staff housing in many
areas – for example at Ramingining many staff only have accommodation by virtue of the
fact that their spouse is another worker in the community. Richard Humphreys also noted
that in the case of Marngarr the staff housing is actually owned by Gumatj not the Council.
Nick acknowledged that housing was an issue right across the region and there would
need to be negotiations with relevant owners re leasing options etc.

5     Naming the Shire and Electoral Wards/Service Areas

Dale Keehne invited members to put forward suggestions for both the name of the Shire
and each of the Electoral Wards/Service Areas. There was general agreement amongst
members that the Shire should be referred to as the East Arnhem Shire as this best
described the overall region and was a name that both the Yolgnu and Anindilyakwa
people related to.

Michele Clarke passed on advice she has received from Groote Eylandt representatives
that they support the name of East Arnhem.

Micky Wunungmurra (Chair) – Open Discussion

As per the attached map, after some discussion Charles Yunupingu suggested the

Gumurr Gatjirrk:    West Ward (Ramingining & Milingimbi)
Gumurr Marthakal:   North Ward (Galiwin’ku and Marthakal Homelands)
Gumurr Miwatj:      East Ward (Gapuwiyak, Yirrkala, Marngarr)
Anindilyakwa:       South Ward (Groote Eylandt and Bickerton)

Members also were flexible for the names to be shortened to Gatjirrk, Marthakal, Miwatj
and Anindilyakwa, for consistency across the region, and practicality.

Whilst there was general agreement as to the relevance of these names for both Yolgnu
and Anindilyakwa people, Dale asked that members take these suggestions back to their
communities for further discussion before sign off at the next transition meeting in October.

6     Draft Model Plans for Shire Service Delivery
         o Shire Services
         o Divisions & Business Units
         o Organisational Structure
         o Service Profiles
         o Next Steps

Dale Keehne gave a brief overview of work completed to date on draft model plans for
service delivery within the new Shire. Dale ran through core and other services (including
unfunded services currently provided by Councils), the divisions and business units
services would be attached to, and the proposed organisational structure for the Shire.

Rick Norton suggested that Interpreter Services should be included as a core service.
Nick Scarvelis indicated that whilst it certainly could be included under non-core or ‘other’
service delivery it was not a core Local Government function.

Dale noted that there was significant variation across the region when it came to what
services (in particular ‘other’ services) were currently provided by communities. A primary
aim of the LG Reform process is to improve the level of service delivery (both core and
other), and achieve a more equitable level of service across the region. Service Profiles
are currently being developed which map service delivery across the region, which model
how services could be delivered through the Shire. An integral aspect of this modelling
also includes identifying additional employment opportunities across the region.

In terms of next steps, Dale explained the next steps to develop the Shire:
    •   DLGHS staff will be completing first drafts of all service profiles for the shire based
        on the data provided by councils to date.
    •   They will then call and / or visit each council CEO and other key staff to review the
        draft service profiles.
    •   a CEO workshop is planned for late September to discuss draft model service
        delivery plans in detail.
    •   The outcomes of the CEO workshop will be presented/discussed at the next
        transition committee meeting scheduled for October.

Members expressed their support for this process.

8       Review of Days Proceedings – Issues arising for follow up

Micky Wunungmurra (Chair) – Open Discussion

Members agreed to discuss the proposed Shire/Ward names with their communities with a
view to signing off on this item at the next meeting. Members agreed to get back to the
Department with any alternative suggestions/community concerns prior to the next

Next Meeting:
Date:          Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Time:          10:00 am

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