OCHRE — NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs Plan

OCHRE – the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal Affairs – stands for Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility and Empowerment. The Plan is the outcome of consultation with Aboriginal communities by the Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs.

OCHRE supports Aboriginal communities to leverage and enhance their leadership capacity, assets and resources, culture and knowledge, to create opportunity, responsibility and empowerment for themselves.

Critically, OCHRE also acknowledges that past government policies and practices impacted on Aboriginal people in ways that disconnected people from their culture and traumatised individuals, families and communities. It includes a commitment by the NSW Government to continue the dialogue with Aboriginal communities in order to understand how agencies can operate to support healing.

Councils have the potential to contribute to this process by working with Aboriginal Affairs and local Aboriginal communities in this area. For example, councils may seek to participate in OCHRE Healing Forums being delivered in 2016 and 2017 by Aboriginal Affairs, the Healing Foundation and interested Aboriginal communities. These one-day events bring local communities together with government and non-government agencies to identify local/regional issues and opportunities to improve the way they work together. More information about OCHRE’s healing initiatives can be found here.

OCHRE initiatives of key relevance to local government include:

Solution brokerage

Brokerage is the coordinated management of critical issues to bring about improved outcomes in Aboriginal communities. It requires agencies to work together and collaborate with non-government organisations to find practical solutions to issues that:

  • require multi-agency involvement to resolve
  • fall between the cracks, with no agency having a clear mandate to resolve
  • have whole-of-government implications
  • are otherwise identified by Aboriginal Affairs’ Senior Management Committee

Solution brokerage takes a three-tiered approach, beginning at Tier One (local or place-specific issues) and escalating through Tier Two (more complex local or regional issues) to Tier Three (major policy reform integration, extraordinary or state-wide issues or issues that require directed agency response).

Councils may have a contributory role to play a role in Solution Brokerage. They may identify a problem and submit it to Aboriginal Affairs for consideration. They can serve on cross-agency project teams led by Aboriginal Affairs, or contribute resources to deliver the project.

Local Decision Making

Local Decision Making (LDM) sets out a pathway for Aboriginal communities to have more control in the delivery and coordination of government services.  Regional Aboriginal decision-making bodies known as Regional Alliances negotiate Accords with State Government agencies which not only set out how community and government will work together to address community priorities, but include actions, timeframes, resources, responsibilities and ways to measure success.

It is a phased process through which Aboriginal communities will gain more control of government services in their communities, moving along a pathway of self-governance and building management skills, decision making power and authority.

As LDM continues to develop, councils will need to ensure they work closely with Regional Alliances to play a constructive and supportive role in this important initiative.

LDM is being implemented across six locations in NSW:

  • Far Western NSW – Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly
  • Illawarra South East – Illawarra and Wingecarribee Local Decision Making Advisory Committee
  • North Coast – Regional Aboriginal Development Authority
  • Central West – Three Rivers Regional Assembly
  • Central Coast – Barang Central Coast Aboriginal Community Organisations Network
  • New England North West – Northern Region Aboriginal Alliance.

OCHRE also includes the NSW Aboriginal Economic Prosperity Framework (AEPF), which will promote the economic prosperity of Aboriginal people and communities in NSW. AEPF policy does not prescribe specific programs or initiatives, it aims to integrate Aboriginal economic participation in to NSW Government Priorities. The focus of the priorities include:

  • Jobs and employment
  • Education and skills
  • Economic agency

While this framework is still in the early stages, local government can play a role in supporting Aboriginal peoples’ economic participation when planning and building community infrastructure.