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Report on Performance

Regional outputs and programmes

Output 2.1.1: Regional Services

(Regional Services Business Division)


Regions are assisted to manage their own futures

The department supported regions in the management of their own futures by:

  • making information available on Australian Government programmes and services
  • providing grants for projects nominated by communities as important to their socioeconomic and environmental wellbeing and sustainability
  • supporting other agencies and governments to evaluate and improve their services to regional and Indigenous Australians.

Other agencies/governments are assisted to evaluate and improve services to regional and Indigenous Australians

Better information on regions now available

The department's capacity to evaluate conditions in regional Australia and inform decision makers about conditions in Australia's regions was expanded during the year.

The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) regional research team has released a Focus on Regions series, with specific research projects on:

  • industry structure
  • education, skills and qualifications
  • taxable income
  • social capital.

Current publications in this series in popular demand are:

  • Industry structure
  • Education, skills and qualifications
  • Taxable income.

A previous report, Investment patterns in the Murray-Darling Basin, has been set as a textbook by Charles Sturt University in the first water policy course at an Australian university.

The government also released major new research on social capital in the publication Focus on regions no. 4: social capital, which examines regional social health.

All BTRE publications are available free online at www.bitre.gov.au.


Information on Australian Government programmes and services is available to all Australians

Demand for information continues

Information was delivered to people in rural, regional and remote Australia through the Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS), which consists of three service elements or channels:

  • a printed directory called the Australian Government Regional Information Directory (AGRID)
  • a toll-free call centre (1800 026 222) providing information and a referral service
  • the Regional Entry Point Website at www.regionalaustralia.gov.au.

The AGRIS Regional Entry Point website currently holds information on 1,549 programmes and services. Hits during the year numbered 1.2 million. AGRIS received 22,534 inquiries in 17,138 calls through the call centre in 2005-06.

Operators assisted callers with vision impairments by reading aloud the requested information or by providing a copy of the directory in cassette or CD form, or by a combination of these methods. Operators also assisted clients with hearing impairments through teletype services, and helped callers whose main language was other than English by using a telephone interpreting service. The call centre also provided the point of contact for people seeking a printed copy of the directory.

Information on how community groups can access government grants was provided through www.grantslink.gov.au—1.8 million hits were recorded during the year (up from 1.4 million in 2004-05). GrantsLINK promoted 204 Australian Government grants programmes.

Regional and Indigenous communities have opportunities to establish and advance local priorities and partnerships

Regional and Indigenous partnerships strengthened

Regional communities were supported in preparing plans for their own development. In 2005-06 the department's regional offices worked with:

  • the national network of 56 Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) to deliver the Regional Partnerships Programme (page 134)
  • 10 locally appointed advisory committees and executive officers to deliver the Sustainable Regions Programme (www.sustainableregions.gov.au page 137
  • Indigenous communities in the remote East Kimberley as part of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) pilot programme (pages 194).

Regional and Indigenous communities have opportunities to establish and advance local priorities and partnerships

Regional women's aspirations recognised

Secretariat and other services were provided to the Regional Women's Advisory Council. In 2005-06 the department supported the council in its:

  • meeting with the Ministerial Taskforce on Indigenous Affairs and the National Indigenous Council in November 2005
  • development of the report Cultural diversity and economic development in our regional Australian communities, which examined the economic, social and environmental value of diversity in four rural and regional areas
  • hosting of a 'Women on the move' event in Townsville, Queensland, to develop strategies for building regionally based networks across rural and regional industries to support women's involvement in leadership positions.

In December 2005, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon Warren Truss MP, appointed the panel to conduct the Inquiry into Women's Representation on Rural and Regional Bodies of Influence. The panel, chaired by Senator the Hon Judith Troeth, conducted the inquiry with the support of a departmental secretariat from December 2005 to June 2006.

The panel was due to report to the minister in August 2006.

Grants are administered for projects that maintain or improve regional wellbeing and sustainability

Grants administered

In 2005-06 the department administered expenses of $124.2 million in grants and subsidies through the:

  • Regional Partnerships Programme (page 132)
  • Sustainable Regions Programme (page 137)
  • Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) scheme (page 141)
  • Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (page 142)
  • Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants programmes (page 143).

The department made a submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programmes. The inquiry commenced in December 2004 and concluded in October 2005.

In February 2006, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) commenced an audit of the Regional Partnerships Programme. The ANAO's report is to be tabled in the autumn 2007 session of parliament.

Other agencies/governments work with us on issues affecting regions

Other issues affecting regions receiving attention

The department continued to work within the Australian Government and with other governments on issues affecting Australia's regions, including with the:

  • Department of the Environment and Heritage, helping it to deliver the community assistance element of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Programme
  • Department of Health and Ageing, implementing the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund to provide improved health services to regional Australia.



The actual price of this output in 2005-06 was $40.1 million.

Overall performance

Table 4.2 Trends in regional services





2006-07 Est.

Departmental activities

Total price of outputa






Australian Government Regional Information Service


1.4m hits

1.6m hits

1.0m hits

1.2m hits

No set target


1.0m hits

1.2m hits

1.4m hits

1.8m hits

No set target

Calls to hotline 1800 026 222





No set target

Regional Partnerships Programmec

Regional Partnership Projects

Applications received





No set target

New projects approved





No set target

Construction of Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum

Cost to government






Rural Transaction Centresd

New sites approved






Sites approved to date





No change

Sites operating at 30 June






Rural Transaction Centres with electronic point of sale (personal banking service)

New sites approved






Sites approved to date





No change

Sites operating at 30 June





No change

Cost to government






Sustainable Regions Programme

New projects approved





No set target

Cost to government






Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) scheme

Communities assisted






Operators engaged






Cost to government






Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

Cost to government






Regional and Rural Research and Development Grantse

Cost to government






Total programmes administered-includes RASS from 2004-05 only

Number of programmes






Total cost of programmes






a As this output came into existence in 2004-05, the historical data shown here relate to the three outputs it replaced: regional development policy advice, regional development programmes, and regional research and data.
b Our website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au was launched in January 2002.
c As this programme was launched on 26 June 2003, the historical data shown here relate to the nine programmes it replaced.
d The Rural Transactions Centres (RTC) Programme was funded through the RTC reserve, as established by the Telstra (Further Dilution of Public Ownership) Act 1999. Under the Act, funds from the reserve could be accessed only until 30 June 2005.
e Prior to 2005-06 this programme was two separate programmes: the Regional and Rural Research Information and Data Programme and the Regional Rural Development Grants Programme.

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Administered Programme-Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation museum
(Regional Services Business Division)


The Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation museum is able to be constructed

The Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation in Bundaberg is funded from a separate appropriation ($1.5 million) and the Regional Partnerships Programme ($2.5 million 2004 election commitment). The project was delayed while the proponent investigated additional funding sources, but it has now begun and should be completed by mid-2008.


Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations

  • Bundaberg in regional Queensland

Payments have been made in line with project progress and the funding agreement.



Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation museum was allocated $1.5 million in the 2005-06 Budget, but this amount was rolled over into 2006-07 at the 2006-07 Budget to reflect project progress.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Regional Partnerships
(Regional Services Business Division)


Funded projects improve regional growth and opportunities, access to services, planning and structural adjustment

Regional Partnerships Programme funding is provided to a wide variety of organisations, including community groups and other non-profit organisations, local government, for-profit organisations, research institutions and Indigenous councils. In 2005-06, 85 per cent of approved grants were to non-profit organisations and local government.

Since the Regional Partnerships Programme commenced in July 2003, the government has approved over $227.1 million for over 1,000 projects.

In 2005-06, funding included:

  • a contribution to construction costs of the medical clinic and nurses' residence of the Diamantina Health Service, which provides essential services at Birdsville in remote south-western Queensland ($440,000 GST inclusive) (see Diamantina Health Service case study)
  • the costs associated with the materials and construction work for the Warren Community Centre ($25,000 GST inclusive)
  • the costs associated with the construction and marketing of an on-farm dairy processing and packaging facility that uses biodegradable packaging at Bannister Downs, near Northcliffe, Western Australia ($178,000 GST inclusive)
  • the costs associated with the construction of a multi-use sport and recreation centre for the community of Horn Island in the Torres Strait ($605,000 GST inclusive).

Election commitment projects progressing

Ministerial approval had been given for 35 election commitment projects, and funding agreements had been signed for 33 projects, by 30 June 2006. Eight of the election projects had been completed.

Expanded eligibility criteria were approved for the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund, which made funds available to a larger number of rural communities. The changes included increasing the cap on funding for individual projects from $200,000 to $400,000, expanding eligibility to local divisions of general practice, and expanding coverage to include funding for infrastructure for medical facilities for allied health professionals.


Regional priorities are established by an Area Consultative Committee (ACC) in each region

Funding of $19.6 million was provided to 56 ACCs throughout Australia to identify and support projects to benefit regional communities. ACCs draw together members from the local business, industry and government sectors to:

  • help develop and implement three-year strategic regional plans to address the issues facing their communities
  • provide on-the-ground support to potential Regional Partnership Programme applicants to help them meet their goals within their local communities.

Three-year funding has been established with the ACCs for 2006-07 to 2008-09, including six key performance indicators that relate to ACC performance in the Regional Partnerships Programme and whole-of-government and promotional activity. This will provide greater surety for ACCs and assist them to attract and retain quality staff and implement longer-term strategic planning in their regions. The government also approved a new charter for ACCs, which specifies their three main roles:

  • to facilitate change and development in their regions
  • to act as links between government, business and the community
  • to facilitate whole-of-government responses to opportunities in their communities.

The government also identified four priority areas for ACCs in 2006-07 for the Regional Partnerships Programme: small and disadvantaged communities; youth; skills shortages and economic growth; and Indigenous communities. These priorities are also identified in the Regional Partnerships Programme guidelines.

The ACCs were provided with additional one-off funding to further strengthen the capacity of the ACC network to effectively support local communities as enhancements to the Regional Partnerships Programme are implemented. This funding was for training or upskilling, additional travel in the ACC region, extra promotional activities, and purchase of office equipment for ACC staff and board members. This funding will increase the ongoing effectiveness and efficiency of the network to assist communities develop quality projects and activities in accordance with the ACC charter.

ACCs provide advice on each project for consideration by ministers.

In 2005-06, projects selected for funding continued to attract strong community support, with private sector and other parties contributing an average of $3 for every $1 spent by the Australian Government.

90% of applications for funding are assessed within 12 weeks of submission

New processes for assessing Regional Partnerships Programme applications

In November 2005, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the

Hon Warren Truss MP, announced changes to the Regional Partnerships Programme, including streamlined assessment processes and the establishment of a decision-making ministerial committee. The Regional Partnerships Ministerial Committee is currently made up of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, and the Special Minister of State.

Recommendations were made to the Regional Partnerships Ministerial Committee for funding 483 projects under the programme. Some 309 projects were approved for funding.

The new assessment processes for Regional Partnerships Programme funding applications were implemented on 13 March 2006. All applications for funding were assessed in the department's national office from that date. As a result, the time taken for assessment and decision making has been reduced from 20 weeks to between 9 and 12 weeks.

It is expected that, during 2006-07, 90 per cent of decisions will be made within 12 weeks for projects seeking funding above $25,000, and 8 weeks for projects seeking up to $25,000.

Grants are provided for projects which meet programme guidelines, including consistency with ACC regional priorities and partnership funding

Each application for funding is assessed against the Regional Partnerships Programme assessment criteria. To be successful, the applications must:

  • be consistent with regional priorities identified in the programme guidelines
  • demonstrate that the outcomes of the project will provide benefits to the community
  • show that they have adequate financial contributions from partnerships support
  • be viable and sustainable.

The Regional Partnerships Ministerial Committee approved new and improved guidelines for the programme that will come into effect in July 2006. Better information will be provided to applicants on what should be included in applications, and the assessment criteria will provide clearer guidance on what kinds of projects are likely to be approved.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement, a legally enforceable document, which sets out the terms and conditions governing Australian Government funding. Funding agreements include a negotiated schedule of payments linked to the agreed milestones, outcomes and time frames.

After a funding agreement is in place, the department continues to monitor projects to ensure that they meet agreed milestones and that proponents comply with the conditions of funding. The department checks progress reports against the obligations identified in each funding agreement, conducts site visits and, for some projects, attends steering committee meetings.

90% of project proponents and ACCs are satisfied with the programme's administration

A survey of completed Regional Partnerships projects was conducted for the first time in December 2005, to enable the quality of the programme to be assessed. Fifty-three per cent of respondents rated the ACC's level of service, when developing an application, as extremely effective. Thirty-seven per cent rated the ACC's level of service as effective.

Unsuccessful applicants, or those who receive less funding than they sought, may request a formal review of the decision. During 2005-06, 28 requests for review-about 5 per cent of all applications-were received from unsuccessful applicants. One decision was reversed after an independent review.

Previous regional programmes

A number of legacy elements of the programme continued in 2005-06 and are now being wound up as funding commitments conclude. These include the former:

  • Dairy Regional Assistance Programme, which was set up in 2000 to help regional communities adjust to the effects of dairy deregulation
  • Regional Solutions Programme, which was set up in 2000 to fund worthwhile regional projects that did not qualify for funding under other federal programmes.

While all payments made under the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) programme were finalised in 2004-05, the department continued to work with grantees to finalise RTC projects. This has resulted in the opening of approximately 30 RTCs during 2005-06, providing their communities with access to services and technology that enable them to obtain information and carry out transactions.


Regional priorities and projects are established in every region in Australia
(56 regions)

In 2005-06, applications were received from every region in Australia.

For details of regional priorities and projects throughout Australia visit www.regionalpartnerships.gov.au.



The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $83.7 million. In the 2006-07 Budget $16.9 million was moved into future years and is available for Regional Partnerships projects.

The Australian Government provided an extra $66.8 million over five years to cover the costs of 38 election commitments.

Overall performance

Did you know?

Bank@Post is a programme that provides banking services to 266 licensed post offices throughout Australia. As at 30 June 2006, the programme was running on schedule with 132 Bank@Post facilities installed in licensed post offices.

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Administered Programme-sustainable regions
(Regional Services Business Division)


Funded projects improve economic, social and/or environmental wellbeing in the region

Since 2001 the government has committed over $92.9 million to 267 projects under the Sustainable Regions Programme to help communities in 10 regions deal with major economic, social and environmental change.

Funding for 55 new projects was approved in 2005-06. The projects described below are representative of approved projects:

  • development of tourism precincts in Queensland, including construction of visitor information centres in Hervey Bay and Kingaroy, and tourism marketing linkages between the Hervey Bay City and Kingaroy Shire Councils ($0.85m plus $0.96m in partner cash and in-kind contributions)
  • construction of the Tweed Regional Institute for Clinical Education, Training and Research to accommodate students from Bond, Griffith and Southern Cross universities studying for part of a university degree, to attract specialist practitioners and to retain local doctors in the Far North East region of New South Wales ($2.2 million plus $2.5 million in partner cash and in-kind contributions)
  • extension of the Yiyili Aboriginal Community's Art Gallery facilities in Halls Creek, Western Australia, to include a crèche, a display area and a larger work area, thereby allowing wider community involvement and participation ($187,000 plus $460,200 in partner contributions)
  • construction of a community music centre in the City of Playford, South Australia, the Northern Sound System project. The centre consists of a performance venue for approx 200 people, recording/rehearsal space, practice rooms, music training facilities and programmes, and multimedia digital technologies ($1.3 million plus $2.7 million in partner contributions)
  • construction of a new facility at Atherton, Queensland, to house Rotocult's head office and its manufacturing, marketing, and research and development arms. Rotocult is an innovative farm cultivation system ($1.2 million plus $3.4 million in partner contributions)
  • design of the Freedom Wheelchair by Lu Papi and Associates. The project is in the final stages before the wheelchair goes into commercial production in the Campbelltown-Camden region of New South Wales. The prototyping process included input from the local disability support group, biomedical engineers, paraplegic and quadriplegic users, the University of Western Sydney's (UWS) Office of Regional Development and the UWS Nanotechnology Network, healthcare professionals and local toolmakers and moulders ($96,000 plus $138,000 in partner contributions).

For details of the priorities for and projects under the Sustainable Regions Programme, visit www.sustainableregions.gov.au .


Regional priorities are established by a Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee (SRAC) in each region

In 2005-06 the department continued to provide secretariat and other support to an advisory committee in each region. The committees-which include business, community and local government representatives-provide advice to the Australian Government on issues associated with the regions, and make recommendations on project funding and on-the-ground support for potential applications (see Figure 4.1).

For the first eight regions, the formal business of SRACs has concluded and the employment of executive officers ceased following the provision of final recommendations by advisory committees in October 2005.

The work of the two newest SRACs-Northern Rivers and North Coast New South Wales and the Darling Matilda Way-continues.

Figure 4.1 Profile of the ten Sustainable Regions as at 30 June 2006

Figure 4.1 Profile  of the ten Sustainable Regions as at 30 June 2006


Grants are provided for projects which meet programme guidelines, including consistency with SRAC regional priorities and partnership funding

Each application for funding is fully and competitively assessed by the regional advisory committee. To be successful, applications must:

  • meet the Sustainable Regions Programme assessment criteria
  • be consistent with identified regional priorities
  • demonstrate that they are likely to achieve sustainable outcomes
  • have significant regional support.

The department also reviews recommended proposals to check that they meet the programme guidelines and arranges any due diligence checks needed. Recommendations and advice are provided to the minister for decision.

In 2005-06 the SRACs for the initial eight regions provided final recommendations reflecting the programme's conclusion, for these regions, on 30 June 2007.

Projects funded have attracted approximately $180 million from private sector and other partners since the programme began in 2001. This equates to an average $2 investment for every $1 the Australian Government invests, although the size of the benefit varies between projects and regions.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement-a legally enforceable document that sets out the terms and conditions governing Australian Government funding. Funding agreements include a negotiated schedule of payments linked to agreed milestones, outcomes and time frames.

After funding agreements are executed, the department continues to work closely with project proponents to ensure that projects remain on schedule and comply with conditions of funding. Progress is analysed against reports received and the obligations identified in funding agreements. Site visits are made as required.

Analysis from site visits and project monitoring indicated that some projects would require payments beyond 30 June 2006. As a result, the government agreed that funding would be available in 2006-07 to enable remaining projects to be completed.

Regional priorities and projects are established for two new regions (Northern Rivers and North Coast NSW; Darling Matilda Way)

In 2005-06 the Minister for Transport and Regional Services agreed to regional priorities recommended to him by the SRACs (see www.sustainableregions.gov.au).

On the basis of these priorities, SRACs for both regions have considered a number of expressions of interest for possible projects and a smaller number of applications. One project was approved in the Northern Rivers and North Coast region in 2005-06.

The department will continue to work with the SRACs and executive officers to assist them to identify projects that will meet the time lines determined by the government.


Agreed projects are implemented in eight existing regions in Campbelltown-Camden, Far North East New South Wales, Gippsland, the Atherton Tablelands, Wide Bay Burnett, Playford-Salisbury, the Kimberley, and North West and West Coast of Tasmania

Funding for existing regions mostly allocated

Up to $12.0 million was available to each existing region over the life of the programme, with the exception of the Atherton Tablelands (up to $18.0 million) and Wide Bay Burnett (up to $8.0 million).

As at 30 June 2006, a total of $92.9 million had been committed to 266 projects across the eight regions.


$51.7m (up from $48.3m at Budget)

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $36.8 million, up from $22.6 million in 2004-05. Up to $28.3 million has been made available for the programme in 2006-07.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) Scheme
(Regional Services Business Division)


Isolated communities have access to passenger transport, goods delivery and other services

Without this scheme, 225 isolated communities would lack regular access to passenger transport, or to goods such as fresh food, prescription medicine, spare parts and school books.

The number of passengers carried in 2005-06 increased slightly to 2,157, while the amount of freight carried to or from communities declined from 39,220 kg to 30,896 kg.


Weekly air services are provided to communities who would otherwise have no regular access to transport

Remote and isolated communities can apply for support under the programme at any time. During 2005-06, one additional community was added to the programme.

The department continued to closely monitor air operators for compliance with the service levels detailed in funding agreements.


Air services are provided to approximately 225 isolated communities in remote parts of Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania

As at 30 June 2006, approximately 225 communities were covered by the scheme.

Around 30 per cent of communities were traditional Indigenous communities while others included cattle and sheep stations.

Many communities are in remote areas of northern Australia where road access can be cut off for months during the wet season and a regular air service is the only reliable means of transport.

Others are in remote desert areas of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia, and one on Cape Barren Island, Tasmania. All have very limited access to other means of transport.



The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $3.2 million, reflecting a lower than anticipated number of new communities applying for RASS services.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal
(Regional Services Business Division)


Additional funds are leveraged for rural and regional renewal
Regional, rural and remote Australia

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), set up by the Australian Government and the Sidney Myer Fund (a major philanthropic trust) in 2000, is the only national philanthropic foundation dedicated to rural and regional Australia.

To date, FRRR has allocated approximately $9 million to projects that stimulate the renewal of whole communities, with the majority of these funds being provided by private donors, including the Pratt Foundation, ANZ Bank, Gardiner Foundation, Bendigo Bank's Community Enterprise Foundation and Rural Education Program Funding Donors, Sarah and Baillieu Myer, Tim and Gina Fairfax, John and Janet Calvert-Jones and a large number of private trusts and foundations.

FRRR is developing a niche in providing small grants to small communities. Private donations to FRRR have been growing steadily.

For more information about the FRRR, visit www.frrr.org.au.


Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations

In line with the Deed of Grant, the department paid the FRRR a 'challenge grant' based on the level of donations received by the foundation in the previous financial year.



The cost of this programme varies from year to year in line with the level of donations received by the foundation. The actual cost of the programme in 2005-06 was $0.4 million. An amount of $0.5 million has been allocated for 2006-07.

Overall performance

Did you know?

People from outside cities are more active in their local communities.

Almost 40 per cent of regional Australians undertook some form of volunteer work compared to 28 per cent of people in capital cities.

Sydney reported the lowest volunteer rate (25 per cent) while regional Western Australia had the highest rate (45 per cent).

Source: BTRE, About Australia's regions, August 2005

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Administered programme-Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants
(Regional Services Business Division)


Issues affecting Australia's regions are researched and communicated to national and regional decision makers

Projects funded under this programme in 2005-06 focused on:

  • research associated with the development of the National Regional Evaluation Framework
  • the 10th National Conference for Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) held in 2006
  • research on collaborative leadership models.



The total cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $0.2 million. The programme is expected to cost around $0.2 million in 2006-07.

Overall performance

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