The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research was commissioned by Aboriginal Affairs NSW (AANSW) to evaluate Accord negotiations in three Local Decision Making (LDM) sites (represented by three Aboriginal Regional Alliances). Accord negotiation is part of the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s LDM initiative, which is itself part of the broader OCHRE (Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment) plan for Aboriginal affairs in NSW. LDM aims to redefine the relationship between NSW Aboriginal communities and the NSW Government, based on a new emphasis on partnerships, agreements, and accountability.
LDM and the Accord-making process is currently taking place in several regions across NSW. The research team was commissioned to evaluate Accord negotiations in three LDM sites (represented by three Aboriginal Regional Alliances) over a period of five months. The evaluation focused on the three phases of Accord negotiation outlined below: the pre-negotiation phase, the negotiation phase (including pre-Accord workshops and formal Accord negotiation), and the post-negotiation phase (including Accord implementation). Findings from the evaluation are presented in site-specific reports for each LDM region, and in this synthesis report.
The commissioned LDM Accords Negotiation Evaluation had two main goals. The first goal was to increase understanding of the three phases of Accord negotiation (pre-negotiation, negotiation, and post-negotiation). The second goal was to identify the strengths of the Accord negotiations processes, the challenges encountered, strategies for addressing these challenges, and opportunities for improvement. Those two goals were to be
achieved via interviews with Regional Alliance Accord Negotiators, NSW Public Official Accord Negotiators, and Independent Facilitators, as well as the analysis of various documents (see below). This synthesis report compares the findings of the CAEPR Evaluations with previous Evaluations and situates the LDM Accord negotiation process within the wider context of agreement making, including the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
LDM and the Accord-making process focus four important key achievements, which are in line with the objectives of LDM and wider policy agendas in NSW and nationally. It is a vehicle for voices of community and regions to reach NSW Government and NSW Government agencies through bottom-up, Indigenous-led regional governance structures. The negotiation of Accords, and LDM as a whole, promote greater involvement of Aboriginal people in priority setting and decision making regarding how government programs and services are conceived, developed, and implemented. Accord negotiation is an important mechanism for agreement making between government and Aboriginal peoples in NSW. Regional Alliances demonstrate significant strategic foresight and capacity to negotiate in good faith toward resetting the relationship between Aboriginal communities and the NSW Government.
Aboriginal regional governance structures, which engage with communities through community working parties and other forms of community engagement, empower Aboriginal people in their engagement with NSW Government agencies in ways that are complementary to the arrangements instigated under the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.
Keywords: Local Decision Making, Indigenous/state agreement-making, Indigenous service delivery.