OCHRE Local Decision Making Stage 2 Evaluation: Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly Evaluation Report

Author/editor: O'Bryan, M, Markham, F
Publisher: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
Year published: 2023
Issue no.: 6/2023


Local Decision Making (LDM) is a NSW Government initiative that aims to transform the way that NSW Government agencies engage with Aboriginal communities regarding service delivery. The aims and approach of LDM are characteristic of the contemporary emphasis on partnerships, agreements, and accountability structures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public policy in Australia. 

This evaluation has undertaken a detailed examination of the operation of LDM in the Murdi Paaki region. It underscores the crucial role that LDM plays as a pillar of Aboriginal public policy infrastructure in NSW. It describes how LDM can bolster other initiatives or programs, presenting several examples of LDM's benefits and the changes it has induced on the ground. This report attests to the potential and capacity of the LDM initiative to provide a framework for shared decision-making and to alter government relationships in the Murdi Paaki region. 

For all its potential, LDM in the Murdi Paaki region is not operating at an optimal level. The system is under-resourced. Community Working Parties are stretched, with unpaid volunteers bearing a heavy burden as they seek to represent their constituents in the decision-making process. This evaluation reveals an urgent need to transform government operations so that resources and decision-making power associated with service delivery are genuinely devolved to local and regional representative bodies. In the Murdi Paaki region, LDM presents a viable platform to pursue that goal. Real progress will demand both structural (institutional) and attitudinal (individual) changes to support decentralised decision-making through LDM. Systems change is achievable, but will require effective leadership, structural reforms, and attitude changes among public sector officials. 

Keywords: Self determination, shared decision making, Aboriginal governance, Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, OCHRE, Local Decision Making, government–community engagement. 



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