Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2022
A very diverse range of organisations undertake the tasks of L&RED in Australia. This diversity reflects the federal structure of Australian government, in that development organisations have been sponsored by all three levels of government, as well as the process of institutional accretion, in which new programmes and new agencies are created by new governments and ministers while some of the old agencies continue to survive despite the withdrawal of their original support. Diversity is also a product of the way in which local and regional development organisations can be created from above and from below: by governments as part of a regional development programme, and by communities responding to specific needs and issues. The first process leads to a common set of organisations within a jurisdiction, while the second produces considerable variety.
In Australia the questionnaire was sent to all local governments and to all identifiable RDAs, as outlined in Chapter One. Table 6.1 shows the distribution of the responding organisations by state or territory, and demonstrates that local government dominates the L&RED scene in Australia, at least in terms of the number of organisations. With 505 useable questionnaires for Australian organisations it is possible to further divide those that are not local government into three groups. The first are termed agencies, and their common features are that they are not a branch of one of the three levels of government, are managed by boards or committees consisting of members of the region, and undertake a wide range of regional development activities. They include ACCs established by the Commonwealth government, the Development Commissions of Western Australia, the Regional Development Boards of SA and NSW, the various RDOs of Queensland, Voluntary Regional Associations of Councils, and a variety of community-based RDOs. The second type are business enterprise or support centres (BECs) which are similar to the first group but have a narrower range of functions, serve smaller regions, and essentially focus on small business advice and support. They may be sponsored by a state government, a Chamber of Commerce or some other business association. The third type covers the rest, a diverse group ranging from urban commercial district development bodies (typically called Main Street organisations in Australia) to Aboriginal and other community development organisations and a few utilities. This diversity makes it hard to generalise about them.