Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (September 2010)
Research into local boards
The research was undertaken with community members in six Central Australian communities: Mutitjulu, Titjikala, Utju, Willowra, Atitjere and Yuendumu.
Researchers asked community members questions about the legitimacy and representation of local boards, the functioning of local boards, their understanding of the role of local board members and suggestions for improvements of local boards.
Across all six communities, participants in the research voiced their frustrations and anger at the way local board meetings are run. Many local board members talked about feeling ashamed, shy and scared to talk up in meetings.
The research found that while both the MacDonnell Shire and the Central Desert Shire are trying to make local boards work, there are some big structural and procedural problems with the development of local boards.
The meetings are unpaid, except for shire staff or Councillors. The meetings are highly structured and the agenda arranged with little input for local board members or community residents. The meetings struggle to get quorum or the participation of local board members in the discussion.
Perhaps, one of the most important issues that residents talked about is the limited scope on the agenda of local boards meeting.
As one resident questioned, “Why do we want to spend our time talking about speed humps when kids aren’t going to school, when the road to the community is a mess, our houses haven’t been fixed and our young people don’t have jobs?”.
The CLC researchers would like to thank all the community members who participated in the research. A full copy of the report can be obtained by visiting the CLC website.