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Outcome 3-Regional Development and Local Government Outputs and Programs

Output 3.1.1-Regional development policy and programs

Highlights

The Department commenced several reforms to the way the Australian Government supports regional development in Australia. They include:

  • the establishment of the Better Regions program and the Office of Northern Australia, in early 2008;
  • the development of a regional and local community infrastructure program, due to be considered in the 2009-10 Budget and to commence on 1 July 2009; and
  • the transition of the Area Consultative Committee network to a new network, Regional Development Australia, due to commence on 1 January 2009.

Regions also benefited from ongoing activities and programs during 2007-08. For example:

  • the GrantsLINK website made information on grants programs readily accessible, receiving nearly 1 million more hits than in 2006-07;
  • the Regional Development Council meeting in August 2007 identified a number of areas for cooperation between levels of government; and
  • the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme subsidised passenger and freight services to provide access for 239 remote communities, Indigenous communities and properties, such as cattle and sheep stations, across four states and the Northern Territory.

Overview

Output 3.1.1 is delivered by the Local Government and Regional Development business division.

Under Output 3.1.1, the division:

  • provides advice to the Australian Government on a broad range of social, economic and governance issues affecting regional Australia;
  • administers grants and subsidies for community initiatives that support regional development;
  • delivers information to regional Australians on Australian Government programs and services;
  • collates and analyses data on regional Australia to inform policy development; and
  • works with other agencies and governments to evaluate and improve services to regional and Indigenous Australians.

The division also administers programs that aim to improve the economic and social environment for Australia's regions, by making regions more sustainable, encouraging job creation and growth, improving access to services, and upgrading a wide range of infrastructure that provides benefits to local communities.

The Office of Northern Australia was established in the Department in March 2008 to provide high-level policy advice to the Australian Government, and to improve coordination between government agencies, business and communities, on issues affecting sustainable development in northern Australia. The Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce, previously located in the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, was moved to the new Office of Northern Australia.

In 2007-08, the output administered the following programs:

  • Area Consultative Committees;
  • Better Regions;
  • Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum;
  • Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal;
  • Improving regional women's representation in decision making;
  • Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants;
  • Regional Partnerships;
  • Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme;
  • Sustainable Regions; and
  • Young District Medical Centre.

In the 2008-09 Budget, the government announced that a number of existing programs would cease or transition to new arrangements as follows:

  • Area Consultative Committees will transition to Regional Development Australia; and
  • the Sustainable Regions program and the Regional Partnerships program were closed to new and uncontracted projects. These two programs are being replaced by the Better Regions election commitments and a regional and local community infrastructure program.

Output 3.1.1 corresponds to Output 2.1.1 in the previous outcome and output structure (see Appendix L for a comparison between the current and previous structures).

Table 5.2 summarises the output's performance in 2007-08.

Summary of performance

Table 5.2 Summary of performance - Output 3.1.1 - Regional development policy and programs

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Regions are assisted to manage their own futures.

The Department assisted regions to manage their own futures by:

  • providing resources, such as information disseminated by the Australian Government Regional Information Service and services delivered under the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme; and
  • supporting projects, including 190 projects (at a total cost of $56 million) under the Regional Partnerships program and seven projects (at a total cost of $1.9 million) under the Sustainable Regions program.

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

The Department provided advice to other Australian Government agencies and statutory authorities on the impacts of government policy and programs.

Quality

Information on Australian Government programs and services is available to all Australians.

The Department made information available to all Australians through the Australian Government Regional Information Service.

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

The Department continued to work with locally appointed advisory committees in the Darling Matilda Way region and the Northern Rivers and North Coast New South Wales region to deliver the Sustainable Regions program.

Departmental officers based in Halls Creek facilitated interaction with the three levels of government for four Indigenous communities in the East Kimberley, in Western Australia, as part of a Council of Australian Governments pilot program. The pilot program ceased in March 2008. Indigenous Coordination Centres, managed by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, are now responsible for administering the Australian Government's Indigenous programs and brokering whole-of-government solutions for local and regional needs.

The Department provided secretariat support to the third Regional Women's Advisory Council.

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

The Department administered $108.2 million in grant payments and subsidies.

Other governments/agencies work with us on issues affecting regions.

The Department worked with agencies of the Australian Government and other governments to achieve outcomes on issues affecting Australia's regions.

On 317 occasions, the Department provided advice to Australian Government agencies on the regional impacts of their submissions.

Through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Department met with international government representatives to exchange ideas on best policy and program approaches for regional development.

Price

$40.6 million

The actual price of this output in 2007-08 was $41.7 million.

Overall performance Mostly achieved.

Detailed report on performance

Effectiveness - Output 3.1.1

Regions are assisted to manage their own futures.

In 2007-08, the Department continued to assist regions to manage their own futures by providing policy advice to the Australian Government, effectively administering programs and keeping regions informed. This included:

  • providing grants to projects that were nominated by local communities and assessed as important to their socioeconomic and environmental wellbeing under the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programs;
  • disseminating information on Australian Government programs and services through the Australian Government Regional Information Service;
  • providing a financial contribution to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal that helps leverage additional donations to fund projects that stimulate the renewal of whole communities; and
  • subsidising weekly air services under the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme to assist remote communities that would otherwise not have regular access to passenger transport, goods delivery and other services.

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

The Department continued to work with agencies of the Australian Government and other governments to achieve outcomes on issues affecting Australia's regions.

The Department provided advice to other Australian Government agencies and statutory authorities, including through interdepartmental committees, on the regional impacts of government policy and programs.

Work continued on the National Regional Evaluation Framework (now known as the Australian Social and Economic Geography project), an approach to analysing the conditions of Australia's regions, providing an improved empirical dataset for place-based policy development and better targeting of regional programs.

Table 5.3 Trends in regional services

  2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08
Departmental activities
Total price of output $36.0m $40.1m $38.6m $41.7m
Australian Government Regional Information Service
www.regionalaustralia.gov.au 1.0m hits 1.2m hits 3.8m hits 4.0m hits
www.grantslink.gov.au 1.4m hits 1.8m hits 8.7m hits 9.8m hits
Calls to 1800 026 222 28,481 22,534 21,769 15,707
Regional Partnerships
Regional Partnerships projects
Applications received 630 541 534 527
New projects approved 417 321 338 190
Cost to government $95.0m $83.7m $53.9m $58.0m
Rural Transaction Centresa
New sites approved - - - -
Sites approved to date 239 239 239 239
Sites operating at 30 June 175 213 216 217
Rural Transaction Centres with electronic point of sale (personal banking service)
New sites approved - - -  
Sites approved to date 141 141 141 141
Sites operating at 30 June 140 140 140 140
Construction of Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum
Cost to government Nil Nil Nil $1.5m
Area Consultative Committee Networkb
Cost to government - - $16.9m $16.9m
Sustainable Regions
New projects approved 60 55 12 7
Cost to government $22.6m $36.8m $7.1m $4.7m
Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme
Communities assisted 225 225 235 239
Operators engaged 7 6 6 5
Cost to government $2.7m $3.2m $3.3m $4.3m
Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal
Cost to government $0.2m $0.4m $0.5m $0.5m
Regional and Rural Research and Development Grantsc
Cost to government $0.2m $0.2m $0.2m $0.2m
Young District Medical Centre
Cost to government - - - $0.1m
Total programs administered
Number of programs 7 6 9 10
Total cost of programs $120.7m $124.2m $82.4m $86.2m

a The Rural Transactions Centres (RTC) Program 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.
b The Area Consultative Committees network will transition to Regional Development Australia committees in 2008-09.
c Prior to 2005-06 this program was two separate programs: the Regional and Rural Research Information and Data Program and the Regional Rural Development Grants.

Quality - Output 3.1.1

Information on Australian Government programs and services is available to all Australians.

Information was delivered to people in rural, regional and remote Australia through the Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS). AGRIS is accessed through:

  • a call centre (1800 026 222); and
  • the Regional Entry Point website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au.

The call centre received more than 15,000 calls in 2007-08, a decrease compared with more 21,000 calls in 2006-07. Call centre operators ensured that information was accessible to all callers by:

  • providing requested information as required to assist callers with vision impairments;
  • using teletype services to assist callers with hearing impairments; and
  • using a telephone interpreting service to assist callers whose main language was other than English.

The Regional Entry Point website, which holds information on nearly 2,000 programs, received over 4.0 million hits in 2007-08, improving on the total of 3.8 million received in 2006-07.

Information on how community groups can access Australian Government grants was provided through a dedicated website, GrantsLINK www.grantslink.gov.au. GrantsLINK promoted over 180 Australian Government grants programs and received more than 9.8 million hits in 2007-08.

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

The Department worked with locally appointed advisory committees in the Darling Matilda Way region and the Northern Rivers and North Coast New South Wales region to deliver the Sustainable Regions program.

The Department provided secretariat support and other services to the third Regional Women's Advisory Council, which met in September 2007. While a range of activities funded by the Department support and encourage participation by regional women in decision-making roles, the Australian Government decided not to implement the action plan for women's representation that was announced in the 2007-08 Budget.

The Department continued to work with Indigenous communities and government agencies in the East Kimberley, Western Australia, as part of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) pilot program, until the pilot program ceased in March 2008. Indigenous Coordination Centres, managed by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, are now responsible for administering the Australian Government's Indigenous programs and brokering whole-of-government solutions for local and regional needs.

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

In 2007-08, the Department administered $86.2 million in grant payments and subsidies to support projects for the benefit of Australian regions

Other agencies/governments work with us on issues affecting regions.

Whole-of-government cooperation

The Department continued to work with agencies of the Australian Government and other governments to achieve outcomes on issues affecting Australia's regions.

The Department of Health and Ageing assisted the Department with the management of the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund. The Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund is designed to improve access to medical practitioners and allied health practitioners in regional communities. The Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund was administered under the Regional Partnerships program until May 2008, when responsibility for the fund was transferred to the Department of Health and Ageing.

In June 2008, the Australian Government Office for Women, with support from this Department and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, held the National Rural Women's Summit in Canberra to strengthen the voice of rural women in shaping rural and regional policy.

Cooperation across levels of government

The Regional Development Council (RDC) is responsible for regional development issues in Australia. It comprises Australian Government and state and territory government ministers responsible for regional development, and a representative from the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

The aim of the RDC is to facilitate more effective cooperation across all tiers of government in order to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes for regional Australians.

In August 2007, the RDC met and identified a number of areas of focus, including:

  • regional development indicators;
  • the importance of high-speed broadband to regional Australia; and
  • difficulties faced by rural communities as a result of the impact of drought.

The Department is represented on the Standing Committee on Regional Development (SCORD), a committee of officials from the Australian Government, state and territory governments and ALGA, which supports the RDC. SCORD met in August 2007 and May 2008 to progress the RDC's agenda.

International information sharing

The Department continued to engage with international organisations to share information on regional development policy, including by:

  • attending the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting held in Paris in November 2007; and
  • participating in the OECD Territorial Steering Group for the China Program held in Beijing in November 2007.

 

Did you know

The Regional Entry Point
The Regional Entry Point, operating since 2002, has links to nearly 2000 Australian Government programs and services for individuals, families, communities, farms and businesses in rural, regional and remote Australia. This website has had more than 3.9 million hits in the 2007-08 financial year, an increase of by over 147,000 since 2006-07.

The Parliamentary Secretary, the Hon Gary Gray AO MP on the banks of the Ord River, Western Australia.

The Parliamentary Secretary, the Hon Gary Gray AO MP on the banks of the Ord River, Western Australia. (Photo DITRDLG)

Administered programs for Output 3.1.1 - Regional development policy and programs

Table 5.4 Summary of performance - Area Consultative Committees

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

ACCs develop strong links between governments, the community and the private sector to support regional growth.

The Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) assisted communities to develop project proposals for consideration under the Regional Partnerships program.

Quality

ACCs facilitate whole-of-government solutions to local problems.

ACCs assisted some other government agencies in the delivery of their programs; for example, they helped the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to deliver its Fishing Community Assistance program.

Number and value of Regional Partnership applications.

ACCs were involved in all applications received under Regional Partnerships.

ACCs deliver services in accordance with their funding and reporting obligations under the Operational Funding Contracts.

Funding to ACCs was provided in accordance with the operational funding contracts.

Cost

$17.4 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $16.9 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

 

Did you know

Regional Development Australia
The Government announced the establishment of Regional Development Australia on 20 March 2008. The existing 54 not-for-profit Area Consultative Committees will transition to Regional Development Australia. As a first step, the ACC Chairs' Reference Group has become the RDA Interim Board until 31 December 2008. Ongoing arrangements will be implemented from 1 January 2009. Regional Development Australia will be an important link between the Australian Government and rural and metropolitan Australia. It will be more closely aligned with state and territory government regional development organisations, providing more effective engagement with regional Australia.

Effectiveness - Area Consultative Committees

Performance indicators Results

ACCs develop strong links between governments, the community and the private sector to support regional growth.

ACCs worked with the key stakeholders in each region, including government agencies, local businesses and community groups, to identify opportunities, set priorities and develop strategies for growth.

Quality - Area Consultative Committees

Performance indicators Results

ACCs facilitate whole-of-government solutions to local problems.

ACCs work in partnership with business, the community and all levels of government to achieve regional economic growth by facilitating whole-of-government solutions to local issues.

Some other Australian Government agencies have contracted ACCs to deliver programs in particular regions.

These include:

  • the Small Business Answers Program of AusIndustry, a division of the former Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research;
  • the restructuring of the Queensland sugar industry, through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; and
  • the Fishing Communities Assistance program, through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Number and value of Regional Partnership applications.

ACCs were involved in all approved Regional Partnerships projects.

ACCs deliver services in accordance with their funding and reporting obligations under the Operational Funding Contracts.

The Department made payments to ACCs subject to the committees meeting reporting requirements under their operational funding contracts.
All ACCs met their obligations under their funding contracts.

Table 5.5 Summary of performance - Better Regions

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

The Better Regions election commitments will benefit communities by providing local infrastructure for a variety of economic and social needs.

The Department provided advice to assist the Australian Government's consideration of ways to provide local infrastructure through projects that meet economic and social needs and are administered with high levels of transparency and accountability.

Quality

Program processes and procedures are in place in line with government legislative requirements.

The Department is developing program processes and procedures that will be consistent with legislative requirements and the Australian National Audit Office Better Practice Principles.

Quantity

Agreed regional election commitments.

The election commitments will be delivered through the Better Regions program.

Location

The projects are based across Australia

The projects are targeted at areas of growth.

Cost

$4.2 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was nil.

The Better Regions Guidelines will be considered by the government early in 2008-09 to enable program commencement and expenditure.

Overall performance Mostly achieved.

The performance indicators are from the 2007-08 PAES.

Table 5.6 Summary of performance - Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

The Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum is able to be constructed.

Construction has commenced and is progressing towards completion by late 2008.

Quality

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements.

Payments were made in line with progress and the requirements of the funding agreement.

Location

Bundaberg

The museum is being constructed in Bundaberg, Queensland.

Cost

$1.5 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $1.5 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.7 Summary of performance - Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Additional funds are generated for rural and regional renewal.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) was established in 2000 as a philanthropic foundation dedicated to the renewal of rural and regional Australia. FRRR aims to promote collaboration between business, the community and government in endeavours to support economic, social, environmental and cultural development.

More information about FRRR is available on its website www.frrr.org.au.

FRRR fulfilled its objectives in 2007-08 by raising approximately $3.6 million dollars in donations (in addition to the Australian Government's contribution) and by providing grants to communities through its various programs.

Quality

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

Australian Government payments to FRRR were made in accordance with a deed of grant which takes into account the broader objectives and governance of the organisation.

Location

Regional, rural and remote Australia.

In 2007-08, FRRR provided assistance for projects in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Cost

$0.5 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $0.5 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.8 Summary of performance - Improving regional women's representation in decision making

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Increase the number of women on regional boards and bodies of influence.

In the 2007-08 Budget, funding was allocated to implement an action plan for women's representation. In December 2007 the Australian Government decided not to proceed with this program.

Quality

An information strategy and mentoring program within regional areas has commenced.

This performance indicator was not met because the program did not proceed.

Location

The program has a regional focus.

This performance indicator was not met because the program did not proceed.

Cost

$0.6 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was nil.

Overall performance Not achieved.

Table 5.9 Summary of performance - Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

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

The Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants program guidelines supported three strategic priorities - Australian Government regional priorities, whole-of-government priorities and regional development conference support. In 2007-08, the program funded 10 projects, including three nationally recognised conferences and projects addressing regional priorities, such as regional migration, regional workforce strategies and the impacts of water shortages. Several projects were also undertaken in partnership with other Australian Government agencies and state government agencies.

Cost

$0.2 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $0.2 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.10 Summary of performance - Regional Partnerships

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

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

The majority of projects approved for funding under the Regional Partnerships program were for the provision of community infrastructure, such as community centres and sporting facilities, which would provide opportunities for economic and social participation. Projects to establish facilities that will support planning activities and deliver services were also approved.

Quality

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

Of the projects assessed in 2007-08, 85% were assessed within the target period (eight weeks for projects seeking less than $50,000, or 12 weeks for projects seeking $50,000 or more). Generally, delays in assessment times arose from the need to seek additional information from applicants.

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

Each application for funding was assessed against the Regional Partnerships assessment criteria.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements.

In 2007-08, payments were made against the achievement of agreed milestones, in accordance with executed funding agreements.

Quantity/Location

Projects are established in every region of Australia (56 regions)a.

At 30 June 2008, every region had at least one active project receiving funding under the Regional Partnerships program.

Cost

$86.0 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $58.0 million.

The underspend is a result of the decision by the Australian Government to close the Regional Partnerships program to new and uncontracted projects.

Overall performance Partially achieved.

a In 2007-08, a number of ACCs in Melbourne were amalgamated, reducing the total number of ACCs from 56 to 54.

Effectiveness - Regional Partnerships

Performance indicators Results

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

Funding was provided to a wide variety of organisations - including community groups and other non-profit organisations, local governments, for-profit organisations, research organisations and Indigenous councils - for projects aimed at improving regional growth and opportunities and supporting the development of self-reliant communities.

The Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund, through the Regional Partnerships program, assists small rural communities to establish walk-in, walk-out health and medical facilities, with the aim of making it easier for the communities to recruit and retain medical practitioners and allied health professionals. There was a larger uptake in Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund applications during 2007-08 after the Australian Government agreed in 2006 to expand the eligibility criteria and guidelines. Sixteen projects, with a total value of $4.7 million, were approved under the fund in 2007-08. Another 21 applications totalling $5.3 million were submitted for assessment.

In November 2007, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released its report on the Performance Audit of the Regional Partnerships Program. The Department accepted the ANAO Report's recommendations, noting that two of the recommendations (5 and 7) relate to practices which the ANAO seeks to promote on a whole-of-government basis, one recommendation (2) was made to the then Department of Finance and Administration and three recommendations (10, 12 and 14) require the agreement of the Australian Government.

Quality - Regional Partnerships

Performance indicators Results

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

In May 2007, the Australian Government agreed to changes to the assessment process for projects seeking less than $50,000 from the Regional Partnerships program. As a result, projects seeking less than $50,000 were expected to be assessed within eight weeks of submission and projects seeking $50,000 or more were expected to be assessed within 12 weeks of submission.

Of the projects assessed in 2007-08, 85 per cent were assessed within the target period. Generally, delays in assessment times arose from the need to seek additional information from applicants.

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

Each application for funding was assessed against the Regional Partnerships assessment criteria, which state that applications must:

  • be consistent with regional priorities identified in the program guidelines;
  • demonstrate that the outcomes of the project will provide benefits to the community;
  • show that the project has adequate financial support from partnership funding; and
  • show that the project is viable and sustainable.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements.

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement (contract), a legally enforceable document, with the Commonwealth. The funding agreement sets out the terms and conditions for the provision of funding and includes a negotiated schedule of payments dependent on the delivery of agreed milestones and reports.

Quantity/Location - Regional Partnerships

Performance indicators Results

Projects are established in every region of Australia (56 regions)a.

Of the 54 regions represented by ACCs, all benefited from projects funded under the Regional Partnerships program. In 2007-08 every region had active projects receiving funding under Regional Partnerships.

In the 2008-09 Budget, the Australian Government announced that the Regional Partnerships program was to be replaced, and therefore would receive no more applications for new projects. The government will continue to fund projects with existing contracts.

a In 2007-08, a number of ACCs in Melbourne were amalgamated, reducing the total number of ACCs from 56 to 54.

Table 5.11 Summary of performance - Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Remote and isolated communities have access to passenger transport, goods delivery and other services.

The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme (RASS) subsidised passenger and freight services to provide access for 239 remote communities in 2007-08.

Quality

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

The scheme provided weekly air services to communities in the 10 geographic contracted service regions.

Only communities that do not have access to regular transport are eligible for admission to the scheme. The 239 communities under the scheme rely on the service for regular passenger and freight transportation.

Quantity/Location

Air services are provided to approximately 235 isolated communities in remote parts of Queensland, NT, WA, SA and Tasmania.

The scheme serviced 239 isolated communities in 2007-08.

Cost

$4.4 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $4.3 million.

Air operators subsidised under the RASS are required to deduct other revenue earned from these flights (such as payments from Australia Post, freight companies or tourist passengers) from the agreed maximum subsidy payable under the scheme. Accordingly, there can be an underspend on the scheme compared to budget, as was the case in 2007-08.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.12 Summary of performance - Sustainable Regions

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

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

The Darling Matilda Way and Northern Rivers North Coast New South Wales Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees (SRACs) recommended 18 new projects for Sustainable Regions funding. Funding was approved and contracted for seven projects. These projects aimed to improve economic, social and environmental wellbeing in their local area and the broader region.

Quality

Grants are provided for projects which meet program guidelines, including consistency with the Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee regional priorities and partnership funding.

Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees (SRACs) made recommendations on project funding against the program's assessment criteria, the program guidelines and regional priorities. The Department continued to provide advice to SRACs in relation to program guidelines and assessment criteria.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements.

In 2007-08, payments were made against the achievement of agreed milestones, in accordance with executed funding agreements.

Quantity/Location

Projects are established in ten sustainable regions in Campbelltown-Camden, Far North East New South Wales, Gippsland, the Atherton Tablelands, Wide Bay Burnett, Playford-Salisbury, the Kimberley, North West and West Coast of Tasmania, Darling Matilda Way and Northern Rivers North Coast NSW.

At 30 June 2008, 275 projects based on SRAC recommendations worth a total of $99 million (GST exclusive) had been approved and contracted across the 10 defined sustainable regions.

Cost

$15.3 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $4.7& million. The underspend is a result of the decision by the Australian Government to close the Sustainable Regions program to new and uncontracted projects.

Overall performance Partially achieved.

Effectiveness - Sustainable Regions

Performance indicators Results

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

In 2007-08, funding was approved and contracted for seven new projects:

  • EcoCover project - for the purchase of a manufacturing plant to produce EcoCover recycled paper weed matting and associated products;
  • the Clarence Edge project - for the development of four elements of the local council's economic development strategy plan: the Clarence Valley Learning Community, the Grafton Transport Hub, a wood fibre facility for the Clarence Valley and a sugar industry investment prospectus;
  • Nambucca Specialist Centre - for the construction, fit-out, car parking and landscaping of a specialist medical centre for visiting specialists and allied health providers;
  • Harwood Slipway - for the construction of an undercover, environmentally compliant, abrasive blasting and painting facility to service various marine industries;
  • Booroongen Djugun - for the delivery of a cultural-specific aged-care employment training course designed to give Aboriginal people the skills to gain employment in the rapidly emerging aged-care sector;
  • Oz Berries Stage 2 - for building extensions, packing equipment for blueberry production and the introduction of computerised operations; and
  • Broken Hill Tourism Development silver museum - for the refurbishment and upgrade of the Albert Kersten Silver and Mineral Museum with interactive displays, expanding the museum's collection and undertaking structural modifications to improve access.

Quality - Sustainable Regions

Performance indicators Results

Grants are provided for projects which meet program guidelines, including consistency with the Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee regional priorities and partnership funding.

Each application for funding was assessed by the relevant SRAC. To be successful, applications must:

  • meet Sustainable Regions assessment criteria;
  • be consistent with identified regional priorities;
  • demonstrate that the project is likely to be sustainable; and
  • have significant regional support.

The Department reviewed SRAC recommendations against Sustainable Regions program guidelines and arranged any necessary financial due diligence checks before providing recommendations and advice to the Minister for decision.

Sustainable Regions projects have attracted partnership funding of over $200 million since 2001 and over $2.6 million in 2007-08. The size of partnership funding varies between projects and regions.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements.

In 2007-08, payments were made against the achievement of agreed milestones, in accordance with executed funding agreements.

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement (contract), a legally enforceable document, with the Commonwealth, which sets out the terms and conditions for the provision of funding. The funding agreement includes a negotiated schedule of payments dependent on the delivery of agreed milestones and reports.

The Department monitored the progress of projects against the agreed milestones set out in the funding agreements.

Quantity/Location - Sustainable Regions

Performance indicator Results

Projects are established in ten sustainable regions in Campbelltown-Camden, Far North East New South Wales, Gippsland, the Atherton Tablelands, Wide Bay Burnett, Playford-Salisbury, the Kimberley, North West and West Coast of Tasmania, Darling Matilda Way and Northern Rivers North Coast NSW.

In 2007-08, five approved and contracted projects were funded at a total cost of $1.2 million.

In the 2008-09 Budget, the Australian Government announced the closure of the Sustainable Regions program to new applications and to applications that had not been approved. The government will continue to fund projects that have existing contracts.

Table 5.13 Summary of performance - Young District Medical Centre

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

The Young District Medical Centre is able to better service its patients and medical students.

The Young District Medical Centre has increased the medical services provided to the community, including access to specialists.

Quality

Increased availability of access to medical services for the community.

The medical centre has provided the community with access to specialists in areas such as mental health, dermatology, urology and obstetrics. The dermatologist has increased his number of visits to the centre and is able to use two rooms to consult from, increasing the number of patients treated. A mental health care nurse has been contracted to the practice to assist in providing mental health services.

Improved education and training for medical students.

The medical centre has a room which supports a third-year medical student from the Australian National University, who is attached to the practice full time.

Location

Young, New South Wales.

 

Cost

$0.1 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $0.1 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Note: The performance indicators are from the 2007-08 PAES.

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