A Community Development approach to Government Engagement and Coordination

An example from Ngukurr 

Many senior Aboriginal community members spoke strongly about how governments must work on projects which come from ‘inside’ the community. Such an approach allows the community to work together and show leadership to young people.

NTG has asked for a step by step example of what such an engagement might look like.  This example has been developed in consultation with Gumbula Consultancies at Ngukurr.

Four groups should be involved:

A group of elders including traditional owners of the land, who will supervise the project development and implementation. They are paid for their authority and contribution. At Ngukurr such a group would include members of the Ngalakan traditional owners group.

Aboriginal Consultant-coordinator
Local community consultant who undertakes negotiations within the community and with government. At Ngukurr this could for example be Ian Gumbula consultants.

With existing links to the community and a commitment to Aboriginal engagement and community development. Chosen by elders group.

Aboriginal corporation
A local Aboriginal body to manage the tender and reporting processes, bookkeeping, insurance etc. At Ngukurr this could be the Mirrwarapa corporation.


  • NTG has funds for some infrastructure development on a remote community to be used for community development.
  • Government worker appointed to support the project development and implementation
  • Local Aboriginal consultant-researcher works with the Aboriginal corporation to bring together an appropriate group of elders relevant to the proposed works to scope possible projects
  • Group of elders works with community to prioritise particular projects
  • NTG works to develop cost estimates for chosen projects and reports back to the elders group through the consultant-coordinator
  • Local community service provider (in association with Aboriginal corporation and government) scopes out the project
  • Scope of work and Contract developed in collaboration between community, service provider and assessed by government using criteria including agreed community development principles
  • Contract signed by local corporation, government and service provider
  • Project implemented and evaluated
  • Local consultant-researcher provides coordination and feedback to government and community during the process.


The contract of work to be undertaken would have particular community development elements. Its elements might include:

  • Name of project
  • Purpose of project (including community development goals)
  • Site
  • Local elders and community members who must be involved in supervision
    • Who and how are they to be involved
  • Contractors to be involved
    • Conditions of engagement and responsibilities
    • Local workers to work with the contractor
    • Conditions of engagement, roles and responsibilities,
  • Role of Aboriginal consultant-coordinator
    • Roles, responsibilities,
  • Role of Aboriginal corporation
    • contracts, insurance etc
  • Time line and budget
  • On-the-job training if necessary or desired
  • Schedule of reporting and review to community elders and government during the life of the project