In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to include an Urban and Regional Strategy as part of the Indigenous Reform Agreement aimed at coordinating the delivery of services to Indigenous Australians. The main purpose of this strategy was to ensure that government agencies and community groups form partnerships to develop implementation plans for coordinated actions in relation to the headline indicators of the COAG Closing the Gap targets.
Of particular interest were the dynamics operating within regional areas, given that these account for around 50 per cent of the national Indigenous population.
These are significant service centres located geographically between metropolitan areas and remote Australia. They have extensive catchment areas from which they are drawing in Indigenous people as migrants as part of a step-wise movement of population out of remote locations. Combined with higher natural population increase, this stands in contrast to non-Indigenous out-migration and population ageing. From an Indigenous policy perspective, and in terms of the COAG Urban and Regional Strategy, they register as demographic ‘hotspots’ in the sense that demographic processes are generating specific outcomes that require place-based policy responses.
In order to understand these processes more fully and their particular implications for policy, this paper focuses on one such location (Port Augusta) as a case study of the changes that are underway in demographic composition more widely,