The Government is investing to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.
We are investing an additional $5.2 billion to help close the gap; build Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory; and develop a new approach to remote employment services to help more people into jobs and support community development.
The Australian Government is committed to Closing the Gap and has made record long–term investments, including the $8.3 billion in existing commitments highlighted in this Statement. New funding in this Budget builds on these record investments.
While the Government is committed to managing our national Budget responsibly to achieve a Budget surplus in 2012‑13, we are continuing our investments to address Indigenous disadvantage. We recognise that closing the gap is a goal shared by all Australians and that there is an ongoing need to invest in this national priority.
Our efforts to close the gap in the Northern Territory have made real progress over the last four years in health, housing, safer communities and the availability of healthy food. However, there is much more to be done. This Budget reflects the need for a long–term, comprehensive investment to close the gap in the Northern Territory — the place where the gap in Indigenous disadvantage is the widest across Australia.
Major investments to close the gap include:
- $3.4 billion for Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — a comprehensive ten-year plan to support Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to live strong, independent lives, including the $243.1 million investment announced in the 2011 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook
- $1.5 billion for a new approach to employment and community development in remote communities across Australia — with a focus on working with communities and individuals to help people into jobs.
In this Budget, the Australian Government is also increasing its investment in Closing the Gap through:
- extending the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial for 12 months, with a further $11.8 million to help Indigenous families budget, increase school attendance and job opportunities, make communities safer, and improve care and protection of children
- a $43.4 million investment from the Australian Government to support the continuation of municipal and essential services, including power, water and sewerage services for about 38,000 Aboriginal people in approximately 350 remote communities in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania
- providing $21.2 million funding to deliver better infrastructure, including water projects, sewerage infrastructure, roads, and housing subdivision in communities across the Torres Strait
- providing $63 million over four years for the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation to establish a free–to–air national Indigenous television channel
- providing funding of $55.7 million to 2015–16 to better prepare children for school through a home–based parenting and early childhood program in 100 sites across Australia, including 50 sites which will specifically benefit Indigenous children
- $1.1 million over four years to give around 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children each year access to an additional dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
- $14.3 million over three years to attract and retain high–calibre teachers in remote areas, by expanding initiatives delivered through the Teach Remote program
- $4.8 million investment over three years to use sport to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys in schooling and to promote school engagement among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls
- providing $30.6 million over four years to deliver an extra 200 culturally appropriate aged care places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- delivering $85.5 million over four years to assist with the higher costs of delivering aged care services in regional and remote Australia, ensuring the financial sustainability of over 650 places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- investing $475 million for new and extended regional and remote health care facilities, including $48.6 million for ten projects which will deliver improved health care services for Indigenous communities
- $1.8 million over three years to help achieve the Australian Public Service (APS) target of increasing Indigenous employment in the APS to 2.7 per cent by 2015
- providing $6.4 million over two years to preserving the collections of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, which are of unique world significance and under threat from deterioration.
The Australian Government is merging its existing Indigenous home loan programs into a single Indigenous Home Ownership program to help more Indigenous Australians own their own home and ensure that the significant investment made by government is best utilised.
This Budget also provides for streamlined management of native title claims by transferring responsibility for claims mediation from the National Native Title Tribunal to the Federal Court.
Each of these new initiatives build on the Australian Government's existing efforts to close the gap, including through Indigenous–specific and mainstream National Partnership Agreements with states and territories.
Remote Indigenous Housing — $5.5 billion over ten years from 2008–09 to
This funding is:
- Building 4,200 new houses
- Refurbishing 4,800 houses
- Providing Indigenous jobs
- Making sure houses are built to last
- Reforming tenancy arrangements to ensure houses are well cared for and maintained.
Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes — $1.6 billion over four years from 2009—10 to 2012—13
This funding is:
- Tackling chronic disease and its risk factors, including smoking
- Expanding health services for Indigenous people
- Strengthening the Indigenous health workforce.
Indigenous Early Childhood Development — $564.4 million over six years from 2008—09 to 2013—14
This funding is:
- Supporting early learning
- Helping Indigenous families
- Improving the health of mothers, babies and young children.
Indigenous Economic Participation — $228.9 million over five years from
2008—09 to 2012—13
This funding is:
- Creating jobs in government service delivery
- Helping Indigenous people into jobs
- Helping Indigenous businesses.
Remote Service Delivery (December 2008) — $291.2 million over six years
This funding is to:
- Increase access to services and raise the level of government services
- Build community governance capacity
- Provide translation services to assist in better understanding the needs of communities
- Build an evidence base on what services are needed in each location
- Develop local implementation plans in 29 priority locations
- Develop and operate a single government interface to make it easier for community to connect with government.
In all of this work, the Government is committed to ongoing engagement and mutual respect, and ensuring Indigenous people are central to policy development and implementation. For example, in developing our Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package, we undertook some of the most extensive consultations with Aboriginal people the government has ever held in the Northern Territory. The Government's support for the national representative body, the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, further demonstrates this respect.
The Government is also committed to acknowledging the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution. To support this commitment we are funding a community awareness initiative to build and sustain public engagement and understanding of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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