Rapid change arising from large-scale development projects can place severe strain on the physical infrastructure and social fabric of affected communities, as well as providing opportunities for betterment. The remote Aboriginal town of Ngukurr, together with its satellite outstations in the south-east Arnhem Land region of the Northern Territory, is likely to experience such change as a result of mineral exploration activity currently being instigated by Rio Tinto.
This study, which is comprehensive in its scope, provides a synchronic baseline statistical analysis of social and economic conditions in Ngukurr. It emphasises several key areas of policy interest and intervention, including the demographic structure and residence patterns of the regional population, and their labour force status, education and training, income, welfare, housing, and health status.
The result is an appraisal of Ngukurr's social and economic life after a generation of self management and land rights, immediately prior to a possible period of major introduced economic development based on mineral exploitation. Thus it presents both a summary of the development effects of post-assimilation policy and the 'before' stage of a comparison-in-waiting. It forms a basis for social impact planning by establishing planning benchmarks across a range of key policy areas, and demonstrates the capacity that exists for rapid appraisal of remote Aboriginal communities.