National Drought Agreement review

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Shape the next National Drought Agreement

In 2018, the Australian Government, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory all signed the National Drought Agreement (NDA).

The NDA includes a requirement for it to be reviewed at least two years before its expiry on 30 June 2024. The review process commenced in February 2022.

A Project Board, with representatives from each NDA party, has been established to oversee the review. The review will result in a final report and recommendations by the end of 2022, which will be made available on this website and provided to all Australian agriculture ministers. The report will inform the development of a new NDA in 2023-24.

The primary purpose of the current NDA is to drive a consistent and shared approach to drought policy between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. It prioritises enhancing long-term drought preparedness and resilience. It also provides a framework to make sure that in times of drought, our response and recovery efforts are coordinated and complementary. The new NDA will continue in its current form – as an agreement between governments – to serve this purpose.

This review is about how the NDA can be strengthened to ensure that farmers and farming communities across the country are well supported in advance, during and post drought events.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – as the secretariat for the review and acting on behalf of all signatories to the NDA – is seeking feedback on whether your views are reflected in NDA review discussions held to date, and if other issues need to be considered in taking the discussion forward.

What we have heard and done so far

Scope

The Australian, state and territory governments have considered feedback received from correspondence, forums and workshops on drought over the last few years and identified several themes for change.

Matters that will be considered in scope for the Review include:

  • improving the objectives and intended outcomes of the NDA
  • optimising the structure and content of the NDA to support its objectives
  • not just on ‘what’ governments work on together, but ‘how’ they work together
  • adequately capturing the shared responsibilities of the Australian, state and territory governments in the agreement
  • acknowledging the roles and responsibilities of local governments and non-government actors
  • strengthening the NDA’s provisions for reporting and evaluation so we can continue to improve.

Matters that are considered out of scope for the Review are:

  • evaluation of individual government drought measures
  • evaluation of the collective impact or efficacy of government drought measures
  • the degree to which the NDA has met its specified objectives and outcomes, which is already reported on through the NDA annual reporting process.

Ideas so far

Through initial discussions, we have heard that the new agreement should:

  • continue the commitment to prioritise long-term preparedness, sustainability, resilience and risk management. Recognise the overarching policy directions of the NDA are driving us in the right direction, even if there remain areas for improvement.
  • cover drought preparedness, response and recovery. Guide collaboration across the entirety of the drought cycle.
  • improve objectives and outcomes. Noting the purpose of the NDA as a tool for collaboration and coordination, include a focus on ‘how’ we work together and with non-government actors.
  • clarify roles and responsibilities. More clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all signatories, particularly where responsibilities are shared.
  • Identify where to focus collaboration so that it can add the most value. Identify and target areas to prioritise collaboration.
  • consider drought impacts beyond the farm gate. Consider the economic impacts of drought on regional economies, including small businesses and industries which rely on agriculture. More explicitly incorporate broader drought exacerbated issues such as mental health and community wellbeing.
  • acknowledge and support improved outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community, and recognise how their social, cultural, environmental and economic interests intersect with drought in Australia.
  • recognise that drought intersects with other policy areas. Acknowledge intersections with other related policy areas (such as climate, water, soils, biodiversity and natural resource management) but retain a focus on agriculture and the impact that drought has on farmers, farming families and regional economies and communities.
  • be easier to navigate. Tighten the drafting to improve the flow and readability of the document and eliminate duplication or redundancies.
  • consolidate the reform principles. Bring them together into a single set of principles for clarity and ease of use. Consider using the principles to acknowledge and expand co-ordination with other policy areas which intersect with drought and to recognise key changes to the operating environment since the last agreement was drafted, such as the importance of locally-led solutions and co-design practices.
  • recognise important partners. Maintain governments as signatories to the NDA and recognise other stakeholders are significantly involved in the drought space.
  • revisit monitoring and reporting arrangements. Consider options to streamline reporting processes, build on the parts of the reporting that signatories find of greatest value, and encourage a culture of learning.

Other advice we’ve sought

The secretariat engaged an independent technical review of the NDA to help support our thinking about potential areas for improvement. In the interests of transparency and to help inform your thinking, we have provided a copy of the technical review report as part of this consultation process. However, please keep in mind that while the report provides some useful ideas and suggestions for consideration, it doesn’t pre-empt the outcome of the review. The final NDA review report, and recommendations, will be agreed by signatories to the NDA.

Submit your feedback

You are free to provide any feedback you think relevant, but these questions may help guide your submission:

  1. Do you have any views you’d like to share about the matters that are in scope for the review?
  2. To what extent do the 'ideas so far' listed above or the technical review report reflect your views. Why, or why not?
  3. What do you see as the strengths and/or weaknesses in the current agreement? Are there gaps or opportunities that should be addressed?
  4. How do you use the NDA?

The secretariat will collate your feedback and share a summary of it with the signatories to the NDA (the states and territories). Feedback will help inform a review report, which will make recommendations for the next NDA.

Shape the next National Drought Agreement

In 2018, the Australian Government, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory all signed the National Drought Agreement (NDA).

The NDA includes a requirement for it to be reviewed at least two years before its expiry on 30 June 2024. The review process commenced in February 2022.

A Project Board, with representatives from each NDA party, has been established to oversee the review. The review will result in a final report and recommendations by the end of 2022, which will be made available on this website and provided to all Australian agriculture ministers. The report will inform the development of a new NDA in 2023-24.

The primary purpose of the current NDA is to drive a consistent and shared approach to drought policy between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. It prioritises enhancing long-term drought preparedness and resilience. It also provides a framework to make sure that in times of drought, our response and recovery efforts are coordinated and complementary. The new NDA will continue in its current form – as an agreement between governments – to serve this purpose.

This review is about how the NDA can be strengthened to ensure that farmers and farming communities across the country are well supported in advance, during and post drought events.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – as the secretariat for the review and acting on behalf of all signatories to the NDA – is seeking feedback on whether your views are reflected in NDA review discussions held to date, and if other issues need to be considered in taking the discussion forward.

What we have heard and done so far

Scope

The Australian, state and territory governments have considered feedback received from correspondence, forums and workshops on drought over the last few years and identified several themes for change.

Matters that will be considered in scope for the Review include:

  • improving the objectives and intended outcomes of the NDA
  • optimising the structure and content of the NDA to support its objectives
  • not just on ‘what’ governments work on together, but ‘how’ they work together
  • adequately capturing the shared responsibilities of the Australian, state and territory governments in the agreement
  • acknowledging the roles and responsibilities of local governments and non-government actors
  • strengthening the NDA’s provisions for reporting and evaluation so we can continue to improve.

Matters that are considered out of scope for the Review are:

  • evaluation of individual government drought measures
  • evaluation of the collective impact or efficacy of government drought measures
  • the degree to which the NDA has met its specified objectives and outcomes, which is already reported on through the NDA annual reporting process.

Ideas so far

Through initial discussions, we have heard that the new agreement should:

  • continue the commitment to prioritise long-term preparedness, sustainability, resilience and risk management. Recognise the overarching policy directions of the NDA are driving us in the right direction, even if there remain areas for improvement.
  • cover drought preparedness, response and recovery. Guide collaboration across the entirety of the drought cycle.
  • improve objectives and outcomes. Noting the purpose of the NDA as a tool for collaboration and coordination, include a focus on ‘how’ we work together and with non-government actors.
  • clarify roles and responsibilities. More clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all signatories, particularly where responsibilities are shared.
  • Identify where to focus collaboration so that it can add the most value. Identify and target areas to prioritise collaboration.
  • consider drought impacts beyond the farm gate. Consider the economic impacts of drought on regional economies, including small businesses and industries which rely on agriculture. More explicitly incorporate broader drought exacerbated issues such as mental health and community wellbeing.
  • acknowledge and support improved outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community, and recognise how their social, cultural, environmental and economic interests intersect with drought in Australia.
  • recognise that drought intersects with other policy areas. Acknowledge intersections with other related policy areas (such as climate, water, soils, biodiversity and natural resource management) but retain a focus on agriculture and the impact that drought has on farmers, farming families and regional economies and communities.
  • be easier to navigate. Tighten the drafting to improve the flow and readability of the document and eliminate duplication or redundancies.
  • consolidate the reform principles. Bring them together into a single set of principles for clarity and ease of use. Consider using the principles to acknowledge and expand co-ordination with other policy areas which intersect with drought and to recognise key changes to the operating environment since the last agreement was drafted, such as the importance of locally-led solutions and co-design practices.
  • recognise important partners. Maintain governments as signatories to the NDA and recognise other stakeholders are significantly involved in the drought space.
  • revisit monitoring and reporting arrangements. Consider options to streamline reporting processes, build on the parts of the reporting that signatories find of greatest value, and encourage a culture of learning.

Other advice we’ve sought

The secretariat engaged an independent technical review of the NDA to help support our thinking about potential areas for improvement. In the interests of transparency and to help inform your thinking, we have provided a copy of the technical review report as part of this consultation process. However, please keep in mind that while the report provides some useful ideas and suggestions for consideration, it doesn’t pre-empt the outcome of the review. The final NDA review report, and recommendations, will be agreed by signatories to the NDA.

Submit your feedback

You are free to provide any feedback you think relevant, but these questions may help guide your submission:

  1. Do you have any views you’d like to share about the matters that are in scope for the review?
  2. To what extent do the 'ideas so far' listed above or the technical review report reflect your views. Why, or why not?
  3. What do you see as the strengths and/or weaknesses in the current agreement? Are there gaps or opportunities that should be addressed?
  4. How do you use the NDA?

The secretariat will collate your feedback and share a summary of it with the signatories to the NDA (the states and territories). Feedback will help inform a review report, which will make recommendations for the next NDA.