The Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek, a place described even by its mayor as the town Australia had forgotten, is preparing for a brighter future.

Mayor Steve Edgington said he hoped work would begin in the next couple of weeks on a regional plan for the town and surrounding areas that would involve the Barkly Regional Council, Northern Territory Government, Federal Government, Aboriginal communities, business people and other groups.

“My ultimate hope is that every child is living in a safe environment and that they have the opportunity to thrive and get into the workforce after that,” Mr Edgington said. “That there is improved housing, no over-crowding and that overall this region becomes a preferred place for people to live and visit.”

Mr Edgington’s comments came after a two-day visit this week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — the first in decades by an Australian Prime Minister.

Mr Turnbull committed to a regional deal for the town and Barkly area which would mirror deals in other places such as Geelong and Townsville.

Tennant Creek hit rock bottom in February with the alleged rape of a two-year-old girl, against a backdrop of spiraling domestic violence and crime rates, chronic overcrowding and a shortage of houses and alcohol problems.

The Barkly regional council invited Mr Turnbull to Tennant Creek to see its problems first hand.