New approach

Optimising infrastructure delivery for Indigenous communities

The need for essential infrastructure in remote Australia is an issue of critical importance. Tasked with rethinking infrastructure for Indigenous communities, Infrastructure Australia (IA) engaged GHD to develop the Remote Indigenous Infrastructure Policy Framework (Framework). The objective is to deliver significant national reform of the planning, prioritisation, funding and delivery of essential infrastructure in remote Australia.

The Framework was developed by IA to address three significant national challenges to Indigenous communities. These are value for money for government investment in infrastructure, and the ability of Indigenous people in remote Australia to enjoy the same standards of service, and reliability of essential infrastructure when compared with other communities of similar size and location – and for that infrastructure to underpin wealth creation in remote Australia.

The Framework establishes new approaches for governance and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), recognising that a traditional CBA will always identify a cost and the investment will not proceed. As a result, GHD developed a fit-for-purpose CBA tool incorporating a Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) that ensures robust, evidence-based decision-making by being able to rank proposed infrastructure investments by community and infrastructure type. The MCA incorporates a range of criteria and measures of risk, the link between infrastructure delivery and social benefit when compared with a baseline and cost-effectiveness analysis.

According to Michael Bissell, GHD's Principal for Indigenous, Environment and Water Services in Canberra, "The Framework, which was developed through extensive consultation with the public, private, community and academic sectors, has now been endorsed for implementation by the IA Council.

"All jurisdictions applying for funding for essential infrastructure in remote Indigenous communities are required to use the Framework."

To date, the Framework has been used to develop funding applications for diverse projects including the AUD106 million road, aerodrome and power upgrade in South Australia (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY)), an AUD306 million road upgrade in the Northern Territory (Tanami Road), AUD210 million in upgrades to road, wharves, bridges and water infrastructure in the Cape York Peninsula, and AUD525 million to upgrade power, water and waste water infrastructure in 72 communities and 66 homelands in the Northern Territory.

Funding has been awarded for the APY Lands road and the Cape York package. The Tanami Road is included in IA's National Infrastructure Priority List.

"The Framework has further strengthened IA's partnership with GHD and our growing reputation as a key player in solving infrastructure issues of a complex nature on a national scale," says Michael.

For more information, contact Michael Bissell on on +61 2 6113 3382 or email