The Outback Futures Project is a genuine invitation to the Outback Community and regional stakeholders to identify what is wanted and needed for the long term sustainability of the outback as its own unique and autonomous region of South Australia.

The Outback Futures Committee comprises Mr Bill McIntosh AM, Presiding Member of the Outback Communities Authority as Chair, Ms Sue Chase AM, regional business leader with a long history of working in the outback as theCEO of Cowell Electric and Mr Ross Sawers, Presiding Member of the new Arid Lands Landscapes SA Board and former member of the SA Arid Lands NRM Board and Regional Development Australia Far North Board. Together the Members of the Outback Futures Committee will collect information  from the Outback Community and other regional stakeholders that it will use to prepare a comprehensive consultation report representing the breadth of issues concerns and aspirations raised along with any recommendations for change for the consideration of the Outback Communities Authority.

What We Heard

The Outback Futures consultation commenced in August 2020 engaging with the Outback community asking their views and aspirations and how to achieve a better and more resilient community into the future.

The Outback Communities Authority is currently considering the future model and governance of outback South Australia through a project entitled ‘Outback Futures’. The Outback Futures Committee met with more than 120 people in August at meetings across the outback and received 42 questionnaire responses. A summary document from that consultation,'What we heard' was distributed at the end of September.

Since then the Committee has carefully considered how best to respond to the issues that were raised, and now we’d like to know what you think about that.

Webinars were held on December 3 and 4 to provide community members and stakeholders with information about principles and potential initiatives developed by the Outback Futures Committee in response to the issues and themes raised in the preliminary consultation in August and September. A final webinar 'What we heard' was held on December 8.

You can view a video of that presentation by clicking here and provide your feedback via a brief questionnaire. Questionnaire responses can be submitted until 5pm on Monday 4 January 2021.

Please feel very welcome to share this with others who you think will be interested in having their say. If you have any questions about these sessions, please contact Marg Howard, Project Manager Outback Futures at email

Moving Forward on the Future of the Outback

Outback Futures

The Outback Futures Project is about the long term and sustainable management and growth of South Australia’s outback and considering what it means for its communities from social, economic, environmental and cultural perspectives.  South Australia’s Outback is a unique place, and the Board is absolutely committed to identifying those services and initiatives that will make it an even better place to live, work and visit.

The Outback Futures Report was provided to our Minister in late January this year, and its recommendations covered three key themes:

  • an enhanced OCA model addressing governance, financial sustainability and reduced reliance on volunteers for service delivery
  • better management of public access in the Outback
  • improved regional coordination of Government services.

If you participated in last year’s consultation you will know that these themes were ‘in principle’ with a promise that further detailed work and engagement was to come.

Next Steps

The OCA intends to run a three stage planning process with Outback communities to develop a meaningful approach for the Outback’s future growth and progress.

Stage 1: Your community is invited to a residential planning workshop from Friday September 3 to Sunday September 5 at Coober Pedy
Stage 2: ‘in community’ consultation over a two week period in October
Stage 3: an online workshop with participants from Coober Pedy to agree on and endorse the plan and its objectives.

We expect to deliver:

  • a strategic blueprint for South Australia's Outback and its communities of interest
  • identification of priority services required to be delivered by the OCA
  • identification of priority services required that would benefit from a joint effort by Government Agencies
  • options for a future financial model to support the community's desired services.

Following the strategic planning workshop at Coober Pedy, meetings will be held in Outback communities during October 2021. To find the meeting dates click here.

Spread the word!

While Progress Associations are hosting these meetings they are open to everyone. You do not need to be a member of a particular Progress Association to attend. Depending on your travel and activities over this period of consultation you may find it more convenient to attend a meeting that is not in you usual 'home' community. Everyone is welcome.

If you are unable to participate in a community meeting, there will be two online meeting options that may be more suitable. It is essential to register for the online sessions by emailing to nominate your preferred time slot.

Questions and feedback can be directed to either OCA Director, Mark Sutton at email or mobile 0427 001 969, or Project Manager Marg Howard at email or mobile 0423 299 995.

We look forward to working with you to position our Outback well for the future.

Report from Coober Pedy

The strategic planning workshop was held at the Desert Cave Hotel Coober Pedy from Friday September 3 to Sunday September 5. It was attended by 48 people.

Communities represented included Andamooka, Beltana, Blinman, Coorabie, Copley, Fowlers Bay, Glendambo, Innamincka, Leigh Creek, Penong and Yunta. They were joined by stakeholders bringing perspectives from tourism, environment, infrastructure, economic development, Aboriginal communities, the pastoral sector and sports organisations. OCA Board Members Tony Vaughan, Jo Fort, Trevor Wright and Bill McIntosh along with OCA Director Mark Sutton and staff members Janelle Greatbatch, Mark Brown and Tracy Neldner rounded out the mix of participants. Outback Futures Project Manager Marg Howard facilitated the weekend’s proceedings.

The workshop explored the key question: “What would we need to talk and agree about this weekend if the current issues facing South Australia’s Outback are to be resolved, and future opportunities grasped, and the OCA supports the Outback be the best it can be?”

Participants identified the topics that needed to be discussed by ‘brainstorming’ issues, which were then grouped into topics, which in turn formed the basis of around 30 small group discussions to answer:

  • What’s the problem?
  • What’s our ideal outcome?
  • What actions do we suggest are taken to achieve the ideal outcome?

You can read the sticky note documentation and topics that were identified and the notes from various discussion groups by clicking here.

The deliberations of participants at Coober Pedy and the ‘what we heard’ document that was developed as a result of consultation in 2020 are forming the basis of a Strategic Blueprint for South Australia’s Outback.

Outback Futures Report

In December 2021 the Outback Communities Authority endorsed the Outback Futures Report which was subsequently provided to the Minister for Planning and Local Government on 20 December 2021.

As promised, the OCA is now publicly releasing the report for your information. You can access the report here.

If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of the Outback Futures Report, please email and provide your postal address.

More information will be provided once a formal response has been received from the Minister.

Optimistic way forward for the future of the Outback

Just before the beginning of 'caretaker' period prior to the recent State election, the Government provided its response to the recommendations contained in the Outback Futures report which was provided to the Minister in December 2021. This response enabled the OCA to do further work on how it proposes to resolve the financial future of the Outback and its communities.

You can access the Outback Futures report here.

Two online meetings were hosted by the OCA on 22 and 23 March 2022 to give community members the opportunity to hear current thinking from the OCA first hand. Many questions were asked by the 46 participants in attendance, not all of which could be answered at the time. We are pleased to provide the PowerPoint presentation used in the meetings and our responses to the questions asked.

Should you wish to provide feedback it should be sent to by COB Monday 11 April 2022.

Final recommendations will be presented to the Minister by the end of May.