Strengthening our communities
Our unique and innovative community development program, an island of proven success in a sea of failure, has been driving positive change in remote Aboriginal communities since 2005.
We work with Aboriginal people who choose to invest their collective royalty, rent, compensation and leasing income in projects that strengthen their communities, identities, languages, cultures and connections to country as well as their capacity to participate in mainstream Australia.
Our community-driven program is not to be confused with the more recent federal government scheme of the same name. While many schemes designed to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in Central Australia struggle to demonstrate that they are making a difference, our monitoring and evaluation shows that our program is. Our evidence-based approach works because it has local participation and control at its heart, while welcoming the support of outside expertise.
Our processes build self-reliance, bolster communities and promote good governance because they help people to use their own income and resources to design and implement development projects they themselves prioritise. Projects to bring health, education and employment benefits, and more. Wherever possible, we deliver projects in partnerships with local Aboriginal-controlled organisations and companies.
Our community development framework aims to achieve the following overarching goals:
- maximise opportunities for Aboriginal participation, ownership and control, particularly in self-managing resources
- generate social, cultural and economic outcomes Aboriginal people value
- build an evidence base for our contribution to Aboriginal capabilities
- share our lessons with government and non-government agencies
We manage six major community benefit projects:
Each project has specific governance and management arrangements and implementation processes. They work with Aboriginal peoples’ own money paid from big developments on their land such as mining and national parks, are governed by Aboriginal people and focus on outcomes they seek.
The success of our program in developing effective governance processes that fit their purpose and the Central Australian context was recognised in 2018 when two community development working groups won prestigious Reconciliation Australia Indigenous Governance Awards.
More and more Aboriginal groups are allocating their collective income to community benefit initiatives.
They can now double their community development investment thanks to a ground breaking co-funding initiative with the Australian Government that has been more than a decade in the making.
The government has listened to our argument that more groups will invest a greater share of their income in community development projects if their funds are matched dollar-for-dollar. In 2020 the Minister for Indigenous Australians approved $9 million from the Aboriginals Benefit Account for a three-year ‘matched funding’ trial.
Community Development News is a colourful, plain-English, twice-yearly newsletter that allows project participants to explain their achievements to others.
Through our publications we reach key decision makers and residents across our vast region, promoting peer learning about the projects, despite the distances.