|The AACAP was founded late in 1996 as a joint initiative of ATSIC, the Australian Army and the then Department of Family and Community Services (FACS). The program was established to provide "infrastructure and housing to remote Aboriginal communities using the design, management and construction resources of the Army and with funding from ATSIC and FACS. The program has a twofold purpose:|
1. to address housing and infrastructure needs on Aboriginal communities; and
2. to provide Army project management and construction units with relevant training opportunities.
AACAP is coordinated closely with NAHS [the National Aboriginal Health Strategy] and is currently [as of 2002] undertaking $10 million worth of works in Indigenous communities on the Dampier Peninsula." (Department of Indigenous Affairs - Government of Western Australia, 2002)
The administrative arrangements were revised following the abolition of ATSIC in 2004-05; the project is currently jointly managed by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Australian Army pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding negotiated by the two agencies. A Steering Committee has been established to establish and review priority areas for the program, consisting of representatives of the major stakeholders - the Department of of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Australian Army and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS):
"Projects are identified taking into account existing project impact assessments used to prioritise National Aboriginal Health Strategy projects, primary health needs data and Army capacities, deployment and training issues. In deciding the suitability of communities and possible project scopes, the views of ATSIS program managers and relevant state/ territory agencies are generally sought." (Department of Defence, 2004)
In addition, no project is undertaken without the prior informed consent of the community involved. The AACAP has resulted in a large number of discrete projects in Indigenous communities throughout Australia; as of early 2009 approximately twenty projects had been completed and the program continues to provide infrastructure and training assistance to selected Indigenous communities:
"Each project has a construction component, a health component and a training component. The construction component focuses on the provision of environmental health infrastructure such as housing, water sewerage and electrical services as well as improving access to primary health care facilities by constructing and upgrading roads and airfields. The health component focuses on augmenting existing community medical, dental and veterinary programs. The training component focuses on specific skills required within the community and includes courses on construction and building maintenance, vehicle and small engine maintenance, welding, concreting and cooking." (Department of Defence, 2007)
There have been three phases in the implementation of AACAP. The first phase of projects (from 1997-2000) included a contribution of over $13 million from FACS, and was considered an effective and beneficial program for all participants by an evaluation of the program completed in September 1999. Consequently, the overall budget of the program was increased to $40 million for the second phase of projects during 2001-04.
Due to the substantial demands the expanded program was placing on Army personnel and resources it was decided in early 2004 that future annual budgets would not exceed $5 million. As there were several changes in the administrative arrangements of participating agencies during 2004, interim funding of $5 million was provided for the year. A budget of $20 million was subsequently approved for the third phase of the program (2006-09). (Department of Defence, 2007)
Although the Navy and Air Force often provide logistical support while projects are underway, the Australian Army coordinates and manages the participation of the Australian Defence Forces. The period of time from the inception of a project to project completion may be up to there years, project delivery typically lasting for approximately six months (and may involve up to 200 staff during peak periods).
The Commander Land Command Support Group has overall responsibility for organising the Army's contributions to the AACAP, 19th Chief Engineer Works is responsible for Project Management and Design in relation to the construction components of each project. Although many military units are usually involved in each project, actual construction is often undertaken by detachments of 6th Engineer Support Regiment as well as private contractors. During the first phase of the program around 65% of construction work was completed by Army personnel, with 35% undertaken by private sector contractors; during the second phase these proportions had approximately reversed. The proportion of construction work completed directly by Army personnel was approximately 50% during the third phase.