Council services

The specific cultural needs of Aboriginal people should be incorporated in planning for council functions, services and responsibilities, including revenue raising, service provision, statutory planning and regulatory functions, and employment.

There are four social justice principles for Aboriginal people which councils should take into consideration. They are:

  • Equity – Aboriginal people are entitled to receive the same services as non-Aboriginal people. The disadvantage experienced in some Aboriginal communities (including discrete Aboriginal villages) means councils need to carefully consider any special requirements such as outreach services
  • Rights – The Australian Constitution grants Aboriginal people exactly the same rights as non-Aboriginal people. At a local government level, councils should develop strategies to both ensure Aboriginal communities have the same access to services as other Australians, and are encouraged and supported to be active participants in council decision-making processes.
  • Access – Service accessibility is critical to Aboriginal people. Accessibility is not just about location and design; it is about the development of an environment that positively promotes services to Aboriginal people
  • Participation – The active participation of Aboriginal people in council affairs as elected representatives, council employees or members of council committees provides councils with direct, effective access to specific knowledge, perspective and linkages with their communities.

It is important that councils actively develop a collaborative approach to addressing the needs of Aboriginal communities and their economic and social development. The Strategic planning checklist sets out specific issues for councils to consider when undertaking strategic planning, ensuring the appropriate inclusion of Aboriginal communities in the process.