Delivering better regional services
- Service delivery
- Family services
- Health and aged care
- Education and training
- Communications and information technology
- Crime prevention
Centrelink is the Commonwealth's primary service delivery agency, with responsibility for administering an extensive range of payments and services. This includes social security payments, childcare assistance, programmes targeted at primary producers, and other emergency-like assistance such as the Ansett Stranded Travellers Assistance Package, and the Volunteer Firefighters package.
Centrelink has completed a review of its National Rural and Regional Servicing Strategy, which was implemented in July 1998, and has subsequently introduced a second phase of this strategy. Centrelink is continuing to tailor its services to the particular needs of small rural and regional communities and, under phase two, has expanded its presence into many more communities with more than 80 new servicing arrangements.
It is important that remote Indigenous communities are able to access Centrelink services on the same basis as other Australians. Under the Australians Working Together Package, Centrelink is establishing 12 new remote area service centres in strategic locations to service surrounding Indigenous communities, including outstations. Centrelink will train and recruit local Indigenous staff to work in these centres.
Funding for these services was made available from within existing resources, with total expenditure under the National Rural and Regional Servicing Strategy for the years 1998-99 to 2002-03 expected to be between $8 million and $9 million.
Centrelink currently has:
- 312 Customer Service Centres across Australia, of which 167 are located in, or are responsible for delivering a service to, rural and regional Australia;
- a network of nearly 450 community-based agents and access points that provide a daily contact and information service on Centrelink's behalf (148 of these are targeted at assisting Indigenous customers);
- a range of visiting services to small rural towns, as well as many remote visiting teams servicing isolated Indigenous communities;
- two dedicated rural call centres in Maryborough, Queensland and Port Augusta, South Australia, tailored to meet the needs of people in rural and remote communities;
- a farmers' 1800 enquiry line on initiatives targeted at primary producers; and
- a presence in approximately 16 of the Rural Transaction Centres opened to date.
Centrelink has also established productive relationships with Commonwealth Government, State and local governments and the private sector to improve access to Centrelink services for rural customers. Some examples of successful collaborative efforts include the partnerships with the WA Telecentre Network, Service Tasmania and the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services' Rural Transaction Centres Programme.
The Federal Government recognises the important role local government plays in delivering services and managing infrastructure for regional Australians. In 2002-03, local government will be paid approximately $1.436 billion in financial assistance grants from the Federal Government, an increase of 3.6 per cent, or about $50 million, over the amount paid in 2001-02*. About 30 per cent of these funds is notionally allocated to councils for spending on local roads. About $965 million of the total funds will go to the 579 councils in rural and regional Australia. All of these funds are untied and councils can spend them according to the needs and priorities of the local community.
* In addition, $11.4 million will be paid to councils in 2002-03 because of the adjustment applied to the 2001-02 grants. Adjustments to the previous year's grants occur each year.
The Government has committed $70 million over five years (1999-2004) for the Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs) Programme. Funding for 2002-03 is $21.3 million.
The programme helps small, rural communities to establish centres that provide access to basic transaction services such as banking, post, phone, fax, the internet, Centrelink services and Medicare Easyclaim. Assistance may also be available to help provide access to an extended range of services unlikely to be provided commercially, such as Job Network, videoconferencing and rooms for visiting professionals and a broad range of community services. Local communities with populations under 3,000 benefit from the programme.
The Government has enhanced the RTC programme to extend eligibility to Licensed Post Offices, to provide more Commonwealth services through RTCs, to improve linkages with State services and programmes and through the operations of the Field Officer Network.
Under More Accessible Government, Commonwealth Government departments are working collaboratively to improve access to grant programmes and to streamline grant administration, with a particular focus on regional, rural and remote communities.
Grantslink was the first product of the More Accessible Government initiative and can be visited at www.grantslink.gov.au. Information on a wide range of Commonwealth Government grants programmes is available. For those without internet access, however, an operator at a freecall number (1800 026 222) can guide them through information available on the website.
More Accessible Government has simplified the paperwork that goes with Commonwealth Government funding. For example, application forms will have a common registration page that collects standard information from applicants about their organisation.
Current work includes developing standard funding agreements for Commonwealth funding programmes used by the general community; improving consultation methods, and mapping Commonwealth networks Australia wide.
In October 1999, a Remote Communities Liaison Officer began working as an outposted whole-of-government officer, based in Longreach, Queensland. The officer is not tied to the promotion of a single programme, instead providing a whole-of-government response to communities.
The officer has been very effective in:
- improving access to and understanding of Commonwealth and Queensland programmes;
- tailoring responses from the community; and
- testing joint funding across programmes to meet community needs.
The Petroleum Products Freight Subsidy Scheme reimburses costs that are incurred above a specified level by oil companies and other fuel distributors for transporting eligible petroleum products to customers in more than 100 remote communities. The aim of the scheme is to benefit these remote consumers by reducing the freight costs of petrol, diesel, aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel.
The estimated funding for the scheme in 2002-03 is $3.5 million.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Torres Strait Regional Authority will spend $511 million in 2002-03 on Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP). The projects offer meaningful work to 36,880 participants and provide social, economic and cultural benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Participants of CDEP voluntarily forego their government income support entitlement to work on these projects.
In 2002-03, $24.5 million will be provided through the Department of Transport and Regional Services for the Regional Assistance Programme, including community-based projects, Area Consultative Committee operations and national projects.
The Regional Assistance Programme contributes to the achievement of national employment goals in regional Australia, by encouraging business and communities to take action, in partnership with government, to build business growth and to stimulate sustainable employment.
Assistance to regions is provided through seed funding to not-for-profit organisations, and funded projects are developed in the context of the relevant Area Consultative Committee regional strategic plan.
There are 56 Area Consultative Committees (ACCs), which operate throughout Australia and are funded through the Regional Assistance Programme. Of these, 43 are located in regional, rural and remote areas. The ACCs comprise business and community representatives who work towards finding community-based solutions for jobs growth, skills development, regional growth and improved service delivery.
In the 2001-02 Federal Budget, the Government announced Australians Working Together. This is a substantial up-front investment to build a more active, participation-based, social safety net to substantially improve our welfare system. It is a joint measure between Commonwealth Government departments, with the Department of Family and Community Services working as lead agency.
Under Australians Working Together, announced in last year's Budget, the Government will spend an additional $324 million on employment services over four years to reduce welfare dependency and maximise the number of job seekers moving to paid employment.
About 40 per cent of the proposed expenditure for this measure will be spent on rural and regional Australia. About $111 million will be spent on Training Credits and Training Accounts, so that eligible job seekers can gain work-related skills. Of this, approximately $48 million will be spent in regional Australia. The Government is also improving employment assistance outcomes across urban, regional and remote areas by enhancing Work for the Dole, Job Search Training and Intensive Assistance Programmes. Of the additional 16,500 Work for the Dole places, approximately 7,800 will be in rural and regional Australia, and of the additional 30,000 Job Search Training places, approximately 12,000 will be in rural and regional Australia.
The first Indigenous Employment Centres, announced as part of Australians Working Together in the 2001-02 Federal Budget, have begun operation, with more beginning from 1 July 2002. Under this initiative, Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) organisations are contracted to take on the additional role of Indigenous Employment Centres, providing further help to Indigenous people to obtain work in areas where job opportunities usually exist, for example in urban and many regional centres. By 2004-05, Indigenous Employment Centres will be providing job search support, work experience, access to accredited training, and ongoing mentoring and support for up to 10,000 CDEP participants. By working with local employers and Job Network Members, the centres will encourage people to find work and help them retain it. This initiative, developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, complements the successful Indigenous Employment Programme.
Regional Australia will benefit from improvements to the Job Network announced in the 2002-03 Budget. Job Network is a national network of about 200 private, community and government organisations helping unemployed people to find work, particularly those who are long-term unemployed.
Current Job Network contracts will expire on 30 June 2003. The offer of new contracts at that time provides a major opportunity to build on Australians Working Together initiatives so that employment services are improved and more individualised service delivery to job seekers is secured.
The active participation model will be a major step forward. It will:
- simplify the current range of services available to job seekers;
- provide easier access to a wider range of job opportunities;
- provide better targeted and more timely services for those most in need;
- further strengthen the culture of active job search and participation for the unemployed; and
- provide more effective incentives for service providers to invest in assistance that will secure higher levels of outcomes for all job seekers, especially the most disadvantaged.
The new contracts will build on the improved access that was delivered as part of the last Job Network purchasing process, including in regional and remote Australia. The changes to Job Matching will mean access to more vacancies through an expanded network of Job Placement Agencies and more online vacancies. The new Job Seeker Account will provide better access to fares assistance for job interviews for long-term unemployed. Job seekers will be able to access a single Job Network member to provide them with support and help them find a job; they will not have to register with multiple Job Network members. In addition, there will be more Work for the Dole places in rural and regional areas where paid job opportunities are scarce.
The Government will also maintain its Harvest Labour Services as tangible evidence of its support for rural industries and improve the coordination and marketing of these services. Other Job Network changes announced in the Budget guarantee job seekers more personalised quality services. Job Network members will have the flexibility to provide tailored assistance to job seekers taking into account regional variations and issues related to location.
On 28 October 2001, the Government announced its intention to provide further tax relief to families through the introduction of the baby bonus. The baby bonus recognises that one of the hardest financial times for families is on the birth of their first child, when one parent often gives up or reduces his or her paid employment.
The baby bonus will be able to be claimed as a refundable tax offset for the 2001-02 financial year and subsequent years and will apply to first children born on or after 1 July 2001. As a transitional measure, it will also apply to children born on or after 1 July 2001 for families who already have children. Parents adopting or otherwise gaining legal custody of a first child will also be eligible.
The baby bonus will pay back to a parent who leaves the workforce after the birth of the child the tax payable on his or her income earned in the year prior to the birth of the child. Parents will be able to claim up to $2,500 annually for up to five years, and a minimum annual benefit of $500 will be available to parents with annual incomes of $25,000 or less in the year they claim the bonus. Where the parent returns to work, the benefit will be reduced in proportion to the income earned. The benefit will also be transferable between spouses.
From 2002-03, the Federal Government will provide $8.5 million over four years to continue the Family and Community Network Initiative. This programme provides funding for projects to build community strength and community networking in disadvantaged areas. It aims to improve coordination and collaboration between government jurisdictions and encourages the involvement of local business in community development. Approximately 70 per cent of projects will be in regional Australia.
Funding of $1 million will be provided in 2002-03, with funding of $7.5 million to be provided over the three years from 2003-04 to 2005-06.
The Government will revise the amount of funding provided for the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy to reflect better the time needed for community capacity building processes. Funding will be reduced by $10 million in 2002-03 and $6.5 million in 2003-04 to allow more project development time. New projects will continue to be funded under the revised allocations.
Project development will continue during 2002-03, with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities requiring longer-term solutions.
The Government will provide $5.3 million to maintain the Men and Family Relationships Programme and Family Relationships Education Programme. Both programmes have significant services in rural and regional areas and have been extended in response to the Family Law Pathways Report.
In 2002-03, $4 million will be provided to continue funding for 54 men's services through the Men and Family Relationships Programme.
In 1997, under the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence Initiative, the Federal Government announced funding specifically for services to assist men with their family relationships. The programme was established because of the relative under use of existing counselling and relationship services by men. The first round of 18 services was supplemented in 1999 by the establishment of a further 36 services. The funding provided will allow the existing 54 services to be extended for a further year.
Twenty-five of the 54 Men and Family Relationships projects provide services in rural and regional areas. The services help men to deal with family relationships and to seek help both to reduce separation and to deal with the emotional consequences of separation. Importantly, the services aim to reduce incidence of male suicide and family violence as well as contributing to increased child support compliance. Service providers are encouraged to trial innovative service delivery methods to address the special needs of families in their areas.
The Government will provide $1.3 million to maintain family relationships education services in rural, regional and remote Australia. This measure continues additional relationship education funding provided by the Government in 1997 through the Justice Statement and maintains current levels of rural relationship education services.
The Family Relationships Education Programme provides early intervention and prevention services through more than 160 outlets throughout Australia. These services include family relationships education, parenting, and pre-marriage education courses that provide skills-based education to couples to help them strengthen their relationships.
One of the themes of the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (PADV) initiative ($50 million over seven years to 2004), has been helping people in rural and remote communities. The high priority of rural and remote issues reflects the isolation and lack of support services faced by many women in rural and remote areas experiencing domestic violence.
More than $3.7 million in funding has been provided to a number of rural and remote projects aimed at expanding information and referral services to women and children escaping domestic violence, and to assist communities to address violence at the community level. In addition, $8 million was provided to States and Territories, and, where projects in communities were funded, the majority of these were in regional, rural and remote areas.
The national Indigenous Family Violence Grants Programme has received $6 million under PADV to assist grassroots organisations to develop culturally appropriate projects with innovative responses to family violence.
The initiative has also undertaken a study of good practice in facilitating the victims of domestic violence's access to the civil and criminal law systems. A focus of the study was to identify rural and remote good practice. The study has identified models which are capable of being replicated across Australia, and some models are being adapted and applied in other settings.
Reconnect is a youth homelessness early intervention programme that began operating in December 1999, with 93 Reconnect services operational by April 2002. Services are located in communities of high need identified by the State and Territory Governments, with an objective of reconnecting young people with family, education, training, employment and their community.
When fully implemented, the programme will fund Reconnect services in about 100 communities nationwide. Approximately 50 per cent of funding (around $10 million per annum) will provide services to regional, rural and remote communities.
Since coming to office in 1996, the Government has acknowledged and responded to the unmet demand for child care and the special requirements of service delivery in rural and regional Australia, by providing flexible services which meet community needs. Ongoing recurrent funding of $4 million per annum is available to support these services in rural and regional areas.
Flexible services are being established in small rural communities and regional areas with dispersed populations, where the need for formal child care has been identified but where the standard models of care, such as long day care, outside school hours care and family day care, are either inappropriate or unavailable.
Funding is also provided to assist with the child care needs of children with additional needs, including children and parents with disabilities, children from non-English-speaking backgrounds, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Funding in excess of $20 million per annum is provided for multifunctional childrens' services, multifunctional Aboriginal children's services and playgroups, mobile services, and enrichment programmes targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
During 2002-03, more than $14 million will be allocated towards providing assistance for child care under the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Programme. This programme helps certain groups of Centrelink customers overcome constraints to their participation in employment, education or training. In more remote regions where formal child care is not available, temporary creches can be established to care for children of JET customers while they participate in work-related activities.
The Better Treatment for Cancer Patients - Radiation Oncology Budget initiative commits $72.7 million over four years, with $13.1 million in 2002-03 for a range of measures that will:
- increase the availability of radiotherapy services for patients living in regional areas;
- enhance the number of radiation therapy facilities in targeted areas of need. This measure provides funding for up to six new regional radiotherapy centres; and
- support the radiotherapy workforce to ensure there are sufficient staff to treat patients.
The precise details of funding for this measure will be determined by the findings of the Radiation Oncology Inquiry. The inquiry will report in mid 2002 and will provide recommendations on how best to increase patient access to radiotherapy services for people living in regional and rural Australia.
Croc Festivals enable young Indigenous people in remote communities to take part in festival performances and a range of education, health and lifestyle activities.
Participation by young Indigenous people in the festivals has lead to improved attitudes to school, better teacher/student relations and an increased awareness about health. The festivals also provide links between community agencies and state and local governments.
As part of the Government's National Illicit Drug Strategy, $1.2 million in additional funding is being provided to the Croc Festivals over the next four years.
The Government's commitment supports remote communities in their determination to see their young people attend school regularly and lead healthy lives without tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
The Government will provide $4 million in 2002-03 to fund a new support scheme for rural specialists, which will be provided to specialist medical colleges through an invited application programme. This is a new element of the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Programme. Applications will be invited from the nine specialist colleges with an existing substantial rural presence for projects or services to support:
- specialists already in rural areas; and
- specialists undertaking outreach into rural areas.
The new programme will complement the existing programme activities.
This Palliative Care in the Community initiative will enable people to receive treatment in a dignified manner and in a setting of their choice, including their own homes and residential aged care homes.
The Government will provide $55 million over four years to:
- improve capacity in the primary care workforce, through education and training for general practitioners, and initiatives to support the role of the nursing and allied health workers;
- enhance systems to ensure adequate specialist backup and improved coordination between hospital and community care to reduce inappropriate hospital admissions;
- coordinate health and other support systems in the community sector to ensure families and friends are able to access the support they need;
- develop better reporting and information systems to inform future planning and policy;
- build evidence on appropriate funding and service delivery models across settings;
- improve access to medications in the community; and
- raise awareness about palliative care in the wider community.
More than 40 per cent of aged care places are located in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. The Federal Government has substantially increased funding for aged care. Funding in 2002-03 will reach $5.6 billion, an increase of half a billion dollars over the previous year. A substantial proportion of this funding is delivered in rural and regional areas.
Smaller aged care homes in rural and remote areas can have difficulty in meeting accreditation standards and maintaining their financial viability. In particular, their capacity to generate capital funds through accommodation bonds and charges may be limited.
The Government will make $25 million available in additional grants each year over the next four years to assist with building and upgrading capital costs of homes in rural and remote areas.
Increased residential aged care subsidies will boost funding by $211.1 million over four years to help ensure that the momentum associated with the Government's Aged Care Reform Agenda is maintained.
In the longer term, the distribution of funding will be subject to the outcome of a review of pricing arrangements for residential aged care.
As part of the process to examine long-term financing options for aged care, the Government will provide $7.1 million over two years to conduct a review of the pricing arrangements for residential aged care.
The review will take into account the improved care requirements under accreditation; underlying cost pressures including movements in nurses' and other wages, and industry views.
The shortage of nurses is a worldwide concern. The under-supply of aged care nurses in rural and regional Australia is of particular concern and may jeopardise the momentum of reforms in the aged care sector.
Additional funding of $26.3 million over four years will provide up to 250 scholarships, valued at up to $10,000 a year, for students from regional areas to undertake undergraduate, postgraduate or re-entry nursing studies at rural and regional universities.
Additional funding of $21.2 million over four years will also enable personal care staff in smaller, less viable aged care homes to take up a range of accredited courses related to geriatric care. Participating aged care homes will be assisted with course fees and other associated costs including travel, accommodation and replacement staff.
Aged care packages give older people the opportunity to stay in their own homes close to their communities for as long as possible, rather than going into residential care. The 2002-03 Federal Budget commits $68.8 million to provide an extra 6,000 Community Aged Care Packages over four years.
Additional funding over four years of $30 million will increase support to carers by:
- expanding Commonwealth-funded respite services, especially for carers in rural and remote areas; and
- subsidising the cost of specialised equipment (special beds, lifting devices), minor modifications within the home, and transport.
The funding will also improve emotional and psychological support for carers through counselling provided by Carer Resource Centres.
Carers of people with dementia often face a difficult and stressful role in challenging situations. In addition, appropriate respite services often mean increased costs to ensure safe, secure accommodation for dementia-specific care, and access to permanent high-level residential care.
The Government will provide an additional $20 million over four years to:
- enable Carer Respite Centres to pay a top up subsidy to providers of aged care homes to assist them to improve access to this specialised care; and
- expand the coverage of psychogeriatric units, which provide specialised management advice and assistance around dementia issues to carers in the community as well as to aged care homes and other mainstream programmes.
Of the 3.4 million Australians with a disability, many live in households with ageing carers. More than half require assistance with personal care and daily living activities. As carers grow older, increasing pressure is placed on their ability to provide ongoing care.
The Support for Ageing Carers of People with Disabilities initiative recognises that ageing carers of people with a disability need certainty around future care for their loved ones. It provides additional funding of $30 million over four years for:
- a pilot programme of education and training for specialist volunteer carers to assist ageing carers and provide continuity of care;
- the purchase of care packages for ageing carers of people with disabilities; and
- assistance with the costs faced by carers, including respite, transport, equipment and other services.
The Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) reimbursement initiative aims to promote careers in rural medicine and, in the longer term, increase the number of doctors in rural and regional Australia.
Medical graduates who complete their medical degree in 2000 or later and who are willing to commit to rural practice will have one-fifth of their HECS debt reimbursed for each year of service they provide in a designated rural area.
The aim of the Workforce Support for Rural General Practitioners Programme is to increase the capacity of the Rural Divisions of General Practice to support the general practice (GP) workforce in rural and remote areas. The programme provides opportunities to link with and coordinate workforce, education and training activities between divisions.
The New General Practitioner Registrars initiative aims to increase access to general practice services in regional Australia. The dedicated 200-place Rural Training Pathway for general practice registrars was established in 2001, providing an additional 50 registrar training places each year. The additional 50 places, plus 150 existing places, make up the Rural Training Pathway.
Under the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarships Scheme, 100 new scholarship places nationally will be provided every year through university medical schools. The scholarships are awarded on the condition that students agree to work in rural and remote areas for six years once they have completed their basic medical training and general practice or specialist fellowship.
More medical specialists are visiting rural Australia and providing services through the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Programme, with the added benefit of enhancing the skills of rural general practitioners. The programme should become fully operational in 2002-03 and it is expected that more than 300 outreach services will be providing services in about 50 rural regions of Australia.
The Rural Retention Programme provides retention payments as an incentive to doctors to continue to practice in rural and remote areas where there is difficulty retaining doctors. Since the programme commenced in December 1999, more than 2,190 doctors have received retention payments.
Payments made through the Practice Incentives Programme (PIP) are in addition to general practitioners' incomes. Rural PIP practices receive a rural "loading", which is a percentage of the basic PIP payment.
The Rural Women's General Practitioner Service aims to improve access for women in rural and remote areas to female general practitioners for particular health services.
The Federal Government continues to fund the very successful Greater Murray Clinical School, the James Cook University Medical School and the development of a rural-focused national network of medical education and training. The locations of the new rural clinical schools include Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Kalgoorlie, Bairnsdale, Shepparton, Burnie, Whyalla and the Riverland district of South Australia, with an expansion of the Northern Territory clinical school.
The University Departments of Rural Health Programme was established in 1996 as a long-term strategy to increase the recruitment and retention of rural health professionals. Ten university departments of rural health have now been established in Geraldton, Broken Hill, Whyalla, Launceston, Shepparton, Alice Springs, Mount Isa, Warrnambool, Tamworth and Lismore.
The Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme provides financial assistance towards the cost of accommodation, living and general expenses, to enable students with rural backgrounds to undertake tertiary medical training.
The number of scholarship holders has increased to a total of 500 per annum.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides emergency retrieval and primary care services to people in rural and remote Australia living beyond the reach of the normal medical infrastructure. The Commonwealth has funded the service for more than 60 years.
The Rural and Remote General Practice Programme aims to improve the supply and distribution of general practitioners to rural and remote communities. Under this initiative, the Rural Locum Relief Programme has provided about 1,500 general practitioners over three years to rural areas with a workforce shortage.
The Divisions of General Practice Programme encourages general practitioners to work together and link with other health professionals to upgrade the quality of health service delivery at the local level.
The Rural Undergraduate Support and Coordination Programme aims to increase the number of medical graduates choosing a career in rural and remote practice. The programme includes selection of students for medical school from rural locations, increased exposure to rural medicine during the undergraduate course and enhanced support for students and rural educators.
The John Flynn Scholarship Scheme supports undergraduate medical students in rural practice and enables medical students to form a long-term relationship with a rural community or regional centre.
The Advanced Specialist Training Posts in Rural Areas programme aims to improve recruitment and retention of rural specialists in the longer term by providing opportunities for advanced trainees to practice in a rural/regional hospital setting.
The Rural Medical Family Support Scheme and complementary research aims to improve current support strategies for rural general practitioners, registrars and their families. The scheme provides direct incentives to rural doctors and their families to remain in regional practice.
This initiative provides a financial incentive to general practices in rural and remote Australia to employ practice nurses.
The Nursing in General Practice Incentive includes funding for 400 nursing scholarships per annum worth up to $3,000 to remove some of the barriers to re-entering the nursing workforce.
The Rural Nursing Scholarships initiative provides 110 annual undergraduate nursing scholarships to students from a rural background, ten of which are for Indigenous students or Aboriginal health workers who want to upgrade their qualifications.
The Government provides $600,000 a year for postgraduate and conference scholarships for professional development and continuing education opportunities to rural nurses. Funding was also provided for rural midwives to update their skills.
Additional funding for the Extended Community Visitors Scheme and Advocacy will provide for 1,000 more community visitors, including 400 in rural and remote areas.
The Aged Care Adjustment Grants for Small Rural Facilities include a recurrent and a capital component. Both components recognise the additional cost burdens faced by rural and remote residential aged care services.
Subsidisation of the accreditation fee for small residential aged care facilities programme puts in place a fee structure that takes into account the different circumstances of aged care facilities. For small residential aged care facilities with 19 places or fewer, no fee is payable, while a tapered fee is applicable for homes with between 20 and 25 places.
The Multipurpose Services Programme is a joint Commonwealth, State and Territory Government initiative that aims to provide a more flexible, coordinated and cost effective framework for service delivery of health and aged care services in rural areas. Commonwealth funding for aged care is pooled with State funds for health services, usually acute care.
The Government has established a Targeted Capital Assistance programme to assist homes for groups with special needs to carry out necessary capital improvements.
The Rural and Remote Pharmacy Package aims to strengthen and extend the rural pharmacy network, improving access to pharmaceutical services for communities in rural and remote areas of Australia.
The Rural and Remote Pharmacy Workforce Development Programme is a component of this package and supports activities to improve the recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural and remote areas.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, continue to experience the lowest health status of any group in the Australian community.
In 2002-03 the Government will spend an estimated $302.7 million on identified Indigenous health initiatives.
The Government has made a sizeable investment in making mainstream programmes more accessible and more responsive to the needs of Indigenous Australians. Initiatives include improved access to medicines for remote Indigenous Australians, the use of Medicare in Aboriginal community-controlled health services, and streamlined enrolment and billing arrangements.
The Primary Health Care Access Programme has been developed based on the lessons of the Aboriginal coordinated care trials and will be the major focus over coming years for improving access to primary health care services. Over the next 18 months, new or enhanced services that increase access to comprehensive primary health care will be available to at least 40 communities.
National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Framework for Action by Governments
In 2002-03 the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council will continue its important work in completing the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Framework for Action by Governments. The framework will outline agreed principles and key result areas that all jurisdictions and the community sector can commit to and will work collaboratively to achieve over the next 10 years.
There are currently 29 residential aged care services specifically targeting Indigenous people, auspiced by Indigenous organisations or with a majority of Indigenous residents. All of these services are now accredited.
The Commonwealth provides approximately $20 million each year to support 65 Indigenous substance misuse services. Under the National Illicit Drug Strategy, about 19 Indigenous programmes have been funded through the Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Programme and about nine under the Community Partnerships Initiative.
The Government has also funded the establishment of the independent Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation. As well as its role in relation to alcohol abuse, the foundation is targeting petrol sniffing and other inhalant use, and is required to spend 20 per cent of total funding on projects targeting Indigenous Australians.
After hours primary medical care services aim to improve these after-hours services. Part of the investment will help to reduce the after hours workload on rural doctors while ensuring that patients have good access to the advice and services that they need.
The More Allied Health Services Programme enables rural communities to access professional allied health services according to local needs. Funding is being managed by eligible rural Divisions of General Practice.
The bush nursing, small community and regional private hospitals programme provides funding for business and financial service planning assistance to 59 private hospitals throughout rural and regional Australia.
The Rural Chronic Disease Initiative aims to assist people in rural Australia, particularly small rural communities, to prevent and manage chronic disease and injury better.
The National Radiotherapy Single Machine Unit Trial aims to increase the access to radiotherapy services in rural communities, to test the commercial and clinical viability of single machine units and to inform national policy.
The Regional Health Services Programme aims to support community-identified health priorities relating to the prevention and treatment of illness in small rural towns. During 2002-03, up to 20 service delivery projects and seven planning projects will be undertaken, bringing the total number of service delivery projects in rural Australia up to 120.
The expanded Medicare Easyclaim facilities programme aims to provide up to 600 additional facilities in rural and remote areas. Easyclaim facilities are to be available in pharmacies, shire headquarters, Rural Transaction Centres and doctors' surgeries.
The projects currently funded under the National Palliative Care Strategy aim to improve regional services, encourage community capacity building and raise awareness of palliative care in the community and the medical profession.
The Government assists general practitioners to develop their skills in mental health diagnosis, care planning and treatment. The Government also supports doctors in forming effective links with other mental health professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists.
Regional Australians have been identified as a priority population under the National Mental Health Strategy. The strategy's rural activities aim to support people living with a mental illness, and their carers, in regional Australia.
Just Ask is a national call centre which provides information about mental health, mental illness, and available related services including community and peer support. The service is based in rural Australia, and is provided at the cost of a local call.
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy supports a whole-of-government and whole-of- community approach to suicide. The strategy aims to support people at risk of suicide and self-harm and promote community, Indigenous and rural suicide prevention activities.
The purpose of the Mental Health Integration Projects is to create and test a more flexible integrated framework for mental health service delivery.
The 2002-03 Federal Budget allocates funding of $547.5 million over five years to support the third Commonwealth - State/Territory Disability Agreement. The agreement continues the Commonwealth's assistance to State and Territory Governments in addressing disability services, such as those of ageing carers in rural and remote areas.
This measure will enable the continuation of services as part of a new agreement under which total funds will amount to $2.7 billion over the five years.
Over three years, the Government will spend $258 million on services that will underpin changes to better recognise and improve the capacity of people claiming or receiving Disability Support Pension. This package of measures will focus on developing and improving work capacity and keeping those with substantial ability more engaged in the workforce.
To achieve this, the Government will build on additional places funded in last year's Budget as part of the Australians Working Together measure `A Better Deal for People with Disabilities'.
This package will fund more than 73,000 extra places in rehabilitation, disability employment assistance, Job Network, Personal Support Programme and education and training to improve the work capacity of people with disabilities.
Some of these new places will be established in rural and remote locations. The changes will occur from 1 July 2003.
The Concessions for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Holders provides assistance to States and Territories for the costs of extending pensioner concessions to card holders.
The Commonwealth has made offers to all States and Territories and has in-principle agreements with the South Australian and Western Australian Governments over the offers. Negotiations with other State and Territory Governments are currently in progress.
The Government is continuing the Department of Veterans' Affairs programme of agency arrangements in rural and regional areas to deliver information and assistance to the veteran community in regional areas.
The Federal Government will provide $1.8 million over four years from 2002-03 to the Boosting Rural Veterinary Services programme.
Because veterinarians in rural areas play an important role in our post border systems, particularly in animal disease prevention, detection and response, a major review of rural veterinary practices will be conducted in 2002 to examine ways of encouraging veterinarians to enter rural practice. As a first step in opening new pathways for veterinarians into regional areas, five bonded scholarships per annum will be offered with the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). This will not only serve to boost AQIS capability during the scholarship-holders' bond, but open a new pathway for veterinarians in regional areas.
Review of Australia's veterinary profession to address the shortage of rural-based large livestock veterinarians
During 2002-03, $100,000 will be provided towards a review of rural veterinarian services. The review is to examine issues relevant to the delivery of animal health services to livestock industries, with a particular focus on the supply and demand of veterinary training and expertise.
In the 2001-02 Federal Budget, the Government provided an additional 670 Commonwealth-funded undergraduate student places for regional higher education institutions and campuses from 2002. In 2002-03, there will be funding of $7.8 million, and places will rise to 1,832 each year as students continue through the system. The new places will increase access to higher education in regional areas and address increased demand due to demographic growth.
Expand the geographic coverage of Enterprise and Career Education Foundation work placement coordinators
As an initial response to the Prime Minister's Youth Pathways Action Plan Taskforce Report Footprints to the Future, additional funding was provided in the 2001-02 Budget to the Enterprise and Career Education Foundation to extend its work placement coordinator arrangements into central and remote areas of Australia, ensuring national coverage. Funding for the measure for 2001-02 to 2004-05 is $9.3 million.
Work placement coordinator activities involve industry and education partnerships at the local level, and foster greater involvement by local enterprises and industry bodies in vocational education and training in schools programmes. They also maintain important linkages between schools and the community.
In the 2001-02 Federal Budget, the Government announced funding support to increase education and training assistance for Indigenous people under the Australians Working Together package. Funding for 2002-03 will be $3.5 million, provided under the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme.
There are two elements under this measure. The first will involve partnerships between communities, industry and education providers to assist 1,600 secondary students in Indigenous communities to complete year 12 and progress to further education and training. The second will assist 2,300 secondary school students to take up vocational learning opportunities supported by business.
The Federal Government provides funding in the order of $40.4 million per annum for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme. The scheme helps the families of primary, secondary and tertiary students under 16 years old who do not have reasonable daily access to an appropriate government school, primarily because of geographic isolation. Centrelink assesses applications and makes payments on behalf of the Department of Education, Science and Training.
More than $25.3 million per annum is provided for the Country Areas Programme. The programme provides additional funding to support or enhance educational activities and services for primary and secondary students who live in rural and geographically isolated areas. This funding is paid to State and Territory Governments, and Catholic and independent education authorities, who determine the priorities and allocation of funds to best address local needs.
Fifteen million dollars in Social Bonus funds were allocated to the Connecting Tasmanian programme schools in 1999-2000, to establish local area and wide area networks linking Tasmanian schools, and to provide additional computers and support resources for the State's government and non-government schools. Funding for the programme is being provided by the Federal Government, Telstra and the Tasmanian Government
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy is Australia's national policy on Indigenous education. The primary objective of the policy is to bring about equity in education for Indigenous Australians and the Federal Government, and State and Territory Governments endorse and promote 21 common and agreed national goals. The policy has an important impact on regional, rural and remote Australia, where many clients are located.
Assistance of approximately $233 million nationally for 2002-03 will be provided under the Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness Programme, the Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme, the Vocational and Educational Guidance for Aboriginals Scheme and the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme.
In addition, $183.7 million will be provided under ABSTUDY for eligible Indigenous students undertaking secondary or tertiary education, many of whom live or study in regional, rural or remote areas.
The Citizenship Visits Programme provides a per capita subsidy to final year primary and secondary school students travelling more than 1,000 kilometres to visit the Parliament and other national institutions in Canberra. To be eligible for the subsidy, students must participate in the Parliamentary Education Programme and other Parliamentary activities.
In 2002-03, the financial allocation for the programme is more than $1 million.
Trials in Innovative Government Electronic Regional Services (TIGERS) was launched in June 1999. Ten million dollars was committed (with $4 million for 2002-03) to trial a range of innovative means of delivering government services over the internet, through call centres and over-the-counter facilities. The TIGERS programme is being undertaken in Tasmania.
The $150 million untimed local calls programme provides for a substantial upgrade of the telecommunications services and networks for people living in remote areas of Australia to enable them to have access to untimed calls including untimed access to dial-up Internet services. Under this programme, people living in extended zones are being offered a two-way satellite Internet service. During the brief offer period the installation and satellite hardware are free. The Federal Government has allocated $25 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The Mobile Phones on Highways initiative committed $24.6 million (with $16.6 million in 2002-03) to facilitate continuous mobile phone reception along 9,425 kilometres of designated highways covering areas within Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. This will increase mobile coverage on some of the major road transport routes in regional Australia.
The funding of $23.9 million for the Mobiles for Towns Over 500 Programme will increase mobile phone coverage for 132 towns with populations of more than 500. Under the programme, all 132 towns will receive CDMA coverage with 40 of these towns also to receive GSM coverage to supplement existing coverage. The Federal Government has allocated $13.3 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The $52.2 million National Communications Fund will support significant telecommunications projects in the education and health sectors in regional Australia.
These programmes form part of the Federal Government's May 2001 $163.1 million package of initiatives responding to the Telecommunications Service Inquiry to improve the level of telecommunications services to regional and rural Australia. The Federal Government has allocated $23.4 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The $50.5 million Regional Mobile Phone Programme will provide:
- $20.4 million towards improving mobile phone coverage to 55 towns with populations of fewer than 500, subject to community need and ongoing viability;
- $20.4 million towards providing spot coverage along 35 regional highways, subject to ongoing viability;
- $7 million to improve mobile phone coverage in the south west of Western Australia under the Wireless West project; and
- $2.1 million for a satellite mobile phone handset subsidy scheme.
The Federal Government has allocated $17.1 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The $48 million Internet Assistance Programme (including up to $10 million Commonwealth and $38 million Telstra funding) will assist internet users to optimise internet speeds, including enabling an equivalent throughput of 19.2 kilobytes per second for web and email applications. The programme includes an online help service to provide advice to users and a technical support service to help users whose problems cannot be resolved by online advice. The Federal Government has allocated $2.8 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) and the Digital Data Service Obligation (DDSO) are part of the Government's ongoing commitment to improve access to communications for Australians living in rural and remote locations. The Federal Government has allocated $58 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The USO ensures that Australians living in rural and remote locations have reasonable access on an equitable basis to the standard telephone service and payphones. The DDSO ensures that all Australians have access on demand to a higher speed data service. In rural and remote areas where people cannot access the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), the Special DDSO ensures that people have access to a digital data service of at least 64 kilobits per second, via satellite. Special DDSO customers may receive assistance with the cost of equipment and installation.
The Commercial Radio Blackspots Programme will provide $5 million over three years (with $1 million allocated for 2002-03) and deliver new or improved commercial radio services to regional and remote communities where it has not been commercially viable for licensees to provide coverage.
The Government allocated SBS $73.7 million to finance the extension of SBS television to 1.2 million Australians in 36 regional transmission areas with a population of 10,000 people or more. All extensions were completed by the end of September 2001, along with another 10 that SBS had separately negotiated for inclusion at no additional cost to the Government.
The Government will provide $5.7 million over four years to enable SBS television to be extended to regional transmission areas with 5,000 to 10,000 people, where suitable spectrum is available. It is anticipated that all service extensions will be completed by 30 June 2004.
This initiative will see SBS television extended to a number of regional communities for the first time and in other areas, where SBS television self-help services already exist, it will relieve a council or local community group of their obligation to meet the costs associated with maintaining the service. In some areas, the initiative may lead to SBS' transmission service provider replacing an existing self-help service with one that affords greater audience reach, which will also result in improved access to SBS television.
The Government will provide an additional $71.2 million over four years to the ABC, with $17.8 million allocated for 2002-03. It is anticipated that most of these funds will provide additional regional and local programming across all media.
The Federal Government recognised the difficulties that some communities, particularly those outside capital cities, were having in getting access to free-to-air television services and established the $35 million Television Black Spots Programme, which is one component of the $120 million Television Fund. Some $22.8 million has been allocated to this programme for 2002-03.
The Second Remote Commercial Television Service Subsidy provides a two-thirds subsidy for the purchase of a transmitter and decoder necessary to access a second commercial television signal by `self-help' groups in remote broadcast licence areas. An information kit was sent to 412 identified remote self-help groups.
As of April 2002, 87 organisations have received funding, representing 149 sites.
In December 2000, the Government and ntl Australia Pty Ltd (ntl) signed the Regional Communications Partnership Agreement. This established a $10 million scheme to assist community-based self-help retransmission groups gain access to National Transmission Network (NTN) sites in regional and remote areas of Australia by subsidising the commercial fees payable. These self-help groups retransmit commercial and national television and radio services to communities that would not otherwise have had access to such services. The Government and ntl each contributed $5 million to the scheme with the Government's contribution sourced from the Television Fund. By the end of March 2002, 25 councils or community groups providing 39 self-help services (involving five radio and 34 television services) had taken advantage of the subsidies available under this scheme.
ABC Local Radio Self-Help Rebroadcasting Subsidy Scheme for cyclone-incident areas in northern Australia
In June 2000, the ABC was provided with a one-off capital injection of $3.2 million to:
- uplink the Cairns-based Local Radio service on the satellite, which occurred in November 2000; and
- establish a self-help scheme, launched in December 2000, that will assist communities in northern Australia susceptible to cyclone activity to gain access to a locally relevant ABC Local Radio service. Eligible communities include those without access to terrestrial radio located north of the Tropic of Capricorn and within 250 kilometres from the coast.
Up to $50,000 is available per service for site establishment and the purchase of equipment. Up to $25,000 is available per service for the replacement of obsolete equipment on sites that existed prior to 1 January 2001. The ABC has advised that four councils or community groups have been approved to receive financial assistance under this scheme to establish or replace six ABC Local Radio self-help services.
The ABC receives an annual appropriation from the Government for planning and minor analog service extensions. The ABC has used some of these funds to finance a Minor Extensions Programme to address some of its higher priorities in relation to radio and television service extensions or enhancements. To date, the programme has funded the uplinking of Kalgoorlie's Local Radio service to satellite and the extension of the Parliamentary and News Network to the Gold Coast, Classic FM and Triple J to Bathurst and Radio National to Cobar. The ABC anticipates that it will be in a position to progressively announce another 16 service extensions during 2002.
SBS has established its Self-Help Retransmission Subsidy Scheme from an annual appropriation of $500,000 which it receives from the Government to assist the establishment of self-help SBS services. SBS provides communities with 50 per cent of the actual costs (up to a limit of $25,000) associated with purchasing the equipment required to locally retransmit its television or radio services. SBS has advised that 37 councils or community groups have received, or have been approved to receive, subsidies to establish SBS radio or television self-help services in 44 communities in the first four funding rounds of this scheme.
Communications that support vital regional public safety, emergency and educational services continue to be assisted through Government space weather reports. State emergency services, country fire authorities, School of the Air, Royal Flying Doctor Service, police and defence establishments, pastoral companies, transport, and geophysical exploration groups have communications enhanced by technical radio advice. Similar advisory services are provided to support air and maritime transport to regions.
In Securing Australia's Prosperity, the Government announced that it would create an office of the Inspector General of Taxation by the end of 2002 to provide advice to Government on tax administration and to act as an advocate for taxpayers. This will provide a new mechanism for addressing taxpayer concerns about tax administration, including those of taxpayers in regional and remote areas.
The Bureau of Meteorology provides a broad range of on-going weather and climate related forecasting and information services to regional Australia. A special initiative commenced in 1996, is aimed at enhancing these services, in particular by enabling field office staff to respond more effectively to local needs for information and services. During 2001-02, the bureau's UV Index Forecast service was extended to rural and regional areas. In 2002-03, a further $350,000 is expected to be directed towards upgrading services of particular interest to rural areas, including development of new forecast and information products and improved product coverage in regional Australia.
Free access to current weather information from automatic weather stations in regional areas as well as radar imagery from the Bureau of Meteorology's 50-odd radar sites is available via the web (www.bom.gov.au). In 2001-02, the radar imagery range was extended to a radius of 250km. Updated every ten minutes, it acts as an ideal adjunct to the bureau's routine public weather forecasts by showing currently-occurring rainfall. In 2002-03, the bureau will improve the format and presentation of current weather information and develop a national mosaic of the radar imagery.
In 2002-03 the Bureau of Meteorology will replace the Mackay weather radar and enhance the national weather radar surveillance network with the completion of new radars near Canberra and Bowen (Queensland). The capital cost of these installations is around $3 million.
The recent completion of the CLIMARC (Climate Archive) project provides access to previously unavailable computerised historical climate data for about 50 locations across Australia. These data are valuable input to agricultural and pastoral simulation models. The project was supported by the Commonwealth, several State governments, as well as rural research and development corporations.
The SILO website (www.bom.gov.au/silo) provides a wealth of climate and weather information targeted for rural industry users. The website assists rural managers in managing climate variability, through using climate information effectively in their day-to-day management and planning. Development work in 2002-03 will include ongoing integration of weather and climate information and improvement in presentation of graphical information.
The Bureau of Meteorology's contact and interaction with regional and rural Australians will be enhanced in 2002-03 through the Climate Outlook Fora. These fora will be used to gather information on how the Bureau's climate services can better satisfy the needs of rural communities. Other initiatives in 2002-03 include collaborative climate applications work with the Victorian Country Fire Authority to assist in bushfire management.
Flood warning services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology are of particular benefit to rural and regional communities. These services are provided in cooperation with State and Local governments and allow farmers to take measures to minimise the adverse impacts of floods and people in rural communities to adequately prepare in order to protect their homes and property. These services are managed through consultative committees in each State and Territory and involve close cooperation with community groups.
Access to a range of map displays of flood, rainfall and river level information, at the Bureau's website (www.bom.gov.au) continues to be extended. This now includes more detailed map displays and more quantitative information on catchment data prepared at one, three and 24-hour intervals. This information, provided on a continuous basis, complements the flood warning information prepared during flood periods.
The Crime Stoppers partnership between community, police and the media operates throughout Australia. This initiative (with funding of $0.2 million for 2002-03) is administered by the Crime Prevention Branch of the Attorney-General's Department. It will provide a national coordination/fundraising point for Crime Stoppers which will enable the setting of strategic direction, networking, information exchange and fundraising at the national level to occur. Fundraising at a national level could be used to extend the Crime Stoppers network into regional and rural Australia.
This agreement between the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory Government is intended to prevent juveniles entering the criminal justice system. The agreement focuses on juveniles across the entire Territory, with a number of the participating organisations based in regional and rural areas. The initiative consists of a juvenile pre-court diversion scheme and funding costs associated with purchasing, maintaining and training for the jointly funded Aboriginal Interpreter Service. The Federal Government has allocated $5 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The National Crime Prevention Programme (previously the National Campaign Against Violence and Crime) is a strategic initiative of the Federal Government to fund and promote policies and projects to prevent and reduce violence and crime and fear of crime in Australian communities. Administered by the Attorney General's Department, the Programme includes both research and practical initiatives including national pilot projects, local prevention activities, communication and crime prevention professionals training initiatives. The Federal Government has allocated $6.2 million to this programme for 2002-03. Funding for the National Crime Prevention Programme will terminate on 30 June 2003.
The Government provided additional funding of $85.9 million over four years from 2001-02 to the National Native Title Tribunal, the Federal Court, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Attorney-General's Department to improve delivery of native title services. The Federal Government has allocated $24.9 million to this programme for 2002-03.
This initiative has been administered by the Australia Council since its introduction in 1996. It has successfully assisted Australian artists at the formative stage of their careers, including artists in rural and regional areas, with greater opportunities for career development and public exposure of their work. The Federal Government has allocated $1.25 million to this programme for 2002-03.
This festival is administered by the Australia Council and follows the success of the two previous youth arts festivals, LOUD (1998) and noise (2001). As a national media- based festival it is accessible to participants, regardless of location, to promote, nurture and celebrate the diversity of young people across the country. The Federal Government has allocated $1 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The Contemporary Music Touring Programme, administered by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, provides funding for individual Australian musicians and Australian groups to tour Australia, including rural and regional areas. It meets key Government arts objectives by providing wide access to a popular arts sector and reaching regional and rural audiences through touring. The Federal Government has allocated $0.25 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The Government will provide $1.2 million over four years from 2002-03 to build on the work of the Heritage Collections Council to address the key needs of heritage collections, particularly those in regional Australia.
The Government will provide $0.9 million over four years from 2002-03 to continue the Commonwealth's support for Australian Museums and Galleries Online, which delivers online services in the form of training, access to important conservation and collection management resources to small regional and remote museums.
The objects of the OzeCulture Grant Programme are to provide assistance to extend the current range of cultural ebusiness activities throughout Australia that:
- encourage collaborative projects which aim to accelerate the adoption of ebusiness solutions across a range of cultural organisations or cultural industry sub-sectors; and
- foster the awareness and strategic take up of innovative ebusiness solutions within and across the cultural sector which deliver sustainable sector wide returns and contribute to increased business efficiency.
Of the five projects funded, two have national, including regional, benefits and three have specifically regional or remote benefits. The Federal Government has allocated $0.2 million to this programme for 2002-03.
The objective of the Regional Arts Fund is to make a significant and sustainable contribution to regional arts and cultural development. The Federal Government has allocated $2.5 million to this programme for 2002-03. Through this initiative the Government recognises the particular needs of artists and communities in rural, regional and remote Australia.
Playing Australia is the Federal Government's national performing arts touring programme, which is being funded $3.6 million in 2002-03. It is designed to assist the touring of performing arts across State and Territory boundaries where this is currently not commercially viable and there is a demonstrated public demand. Most of the performances tour to rural or regional areas.
Visions of Australia is the Federal Government's national touring exhibitions grant programme which assists the touring of cultural exhibitions across State/Territory boundaries. Funding is provided principally to assist with exhibition touring costs, with some funding for project development. Most of the exhibitions tour to rural or regional areas. The Federal Government has allocated $1.8 million to this programme for 2002-03.
This is a Commonwealth Government grant programme (funded to $0.9 million in 2002-03) designed to assist the presentation of arts and cultural activities at Australian regional and community festivals. The emphasis is on supporting a project which adds to the quality and diversity of the arts and cultural programming of a festival.
The Government provided $1.2 million over four years from 2000-01 to provide training and skills development in several key areas, for arts and museum volunteer workers in approximately 80 regional centres across Australia. The project (which is jointly funded by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and the Department of Family and Community Services), is currently in the curriculum development and planning stage. The Federal Government has allocated $0.5 million to this programme for 2002-03 and training is planned to commence in regional centres in June 2002.
In 2002-03, the Federal Government will spend more than $27 million on Major Federation Fund projects in regional Australia. Projects make a significant ongoing economic, social and cultural contribution, providing increased employment opportunities, upgrading cultural and heritage facilities such as art galleries and museums, and encouraging the growth of tourism-related industry. Under the Major Federation Fund, the Federal Government has supported a total of 52 projects in regional Australia, with funds totalling $81.7 million. In 2002-03, there will be two projects in regional areas:
- Victorian Regional Galleries
- Queensland Heritage Trails Network.
Under the Federation Cultural and Heritage Projects Programme, the Federal Government has provided some $70 million from the Federation Fund towards medium-sized projects throughout regional Australia, including $0.25 million in 2002-03. Projects provide economic benefits through increased employment during construction and on completion, and from tourism, and are conserving significant heritage and cultural assets and enhancing community facilities and quality of life. Thirty-six projects from the 60 funded were in regional Australia and three projects will continue into 2002-03.