Indigenous Socioeconomics Indicators, Benefits and Expenditure


Contents

Social Policy Group

Indigenous Individual Benefits

Last updated 7 August 2001

This is a companion paper to two other briefs prepared by the Parliamentary Library's Information and Research Services, Indigenous Affairs Expenditure and Indigenous Socioeconomic Indicators.

Very few programs intended to assist indigenous people involve the allocation of individual benefitsand thus most can not be regarded as offering Centrelink style 'welfare provision'. Indeed, perhaps only 10 per cent of identifiable Commonwealth expenditure goes on such assistance. Where a program may result in an individual benefit, as might Abstudy, the Indigenous Housing loans program and Community Development Employment Projects, the individual benefit an Indigenous person might receive from the program may vary slightly from that which a non-Indigenous Australian might receive from comparable mainstream programs.

The following table offers a comparison of indigenous and comparable mainstream programs offering individual benefits in the areas of Education, Employment, Health, Housing and Legal Services. The table does not include programs which are directed more to Indigenous people as a whole or programs from which Indigenous people do not gain a direct and measurable individual benefit.

For a history of the definition of Aboriginality used for determining benefit eligibility please see 'The Definition of Aboriginality', Research Note, no. 18, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 2000.

Education

Indigenous-specific Programs

Other Comparable Programs

ABSTUDY

Youth Allowance (YA)

Age, Residence, Nationality

Must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (ATSI), and identifies as ATSI, and, is accepted in community in which he/she resides as ATSI

Students aged 14+. No upper age limit.

A legal Australian resident and have served 2 year newly arrived resident waiting period

Aged 1624 and a full-time student, or

Independent 15 yr olds above State school leaving age. Students aged 25+ claim Austudy payment.

Qualifying Study

Undertaking approved study which encompasses:

  • Primary education if aged 14+
  • Secondary education
  • Distance education or correspondence course
  • Tertiary (TAFE, university, tertiary institution) undertaking at least two-thirds of the full-time course requirements
  • Masters or Doctorate study

Undertaking approved study/training which encompasses:

  • Full-time study or training at an approved educational institution, secondary or tertiary
  • Full-time study is met where undertaking at least three-quarters of the full-time study load requirements
  • Only payable for tertiary undergraduate study

Definition and Measurement of Income for Personal Income Test

Income as defined under the Tax Act.

Generally includes gross income from wages/salary, interest from investments etc.

Measures the fortnightly income for each fortnightly period ABSTUDY is to be paid for.

Allows all deductions allowable under the Income Tax Assessment Act.

Personal income test does not apply to ABSTUDY recipients who are either:

  • Under age 16, or
  • Studying part-time

Income as defined under the Social Security Act 1991 (SSA).

Measures the fortnightly income for each fortnightly period YA to be paid for.

Generally includes gross income from wages/salary, interest from investments etc.

Gross income less deductions allowed under the SSA. Some employment or income deductions allowed under the Income Tax Assessment Act may not be allowable.

Personal Income Test: Free Area Threshold and Taper

Free area $236 per fortnight (pf).

Income from $230 to $316 pf reduces the max ABSTUDY rate by 50 cents per dollar. Income >$316 pf reduces the rate by 70 cents per dollar.

Free area $236 pf.

Income from $230 to $316 pf reduces the max YA rate by 50 cents per dollar.
Income >$316 pf reduces the rate by 70 cents per dollar.

Personal Income Test: Cut-off Limits

Single dependent persons at home

  • Single (1617 years) at home, dependent $12 446 per year
  • Single (18+) at home, dependent $13 602 per year
  • Single (16-17 years) at home, dependent $12 446 per year
  • Single (18+) at home, dependent $13 602 per year

Single independent persons

  • Single away from home independent $17 171 per year
  • Single away from home independent $17 171 per year

Partnered/legally married with no dependent children

If not legally married, partnered status requires de-facto relationship of 12 months+

  • Partnered, no children $18 196 per year
  • Partnered, no children $18 196 per year

Parental Income Test (Dependent Students Only)

Parental income test does not apply for independent students

ABSTUDY independence applies to student where:

  • Aged 25>
  • Married or been married
  • Have, or had, a dependent child
  • Are caring for a dependent child
  • Have been employed or looking for work in 3 of the past 4 years, i.e. 156 out of past 208 weeks
  • Have been imprisoned for 6 months or more and are a secondary student aged 18+ or a tertiary student
  • Are an orphan
  • Have adult status in a traditional community in the NT, Qld, SA or WA

No effect on ABSTUDY rate if parental income is <$24 388 per year, plus additional amount for each additional dependent children

Income is generally taxable income plus maintenance received, overseas income, employer provided fringe benefits, income from negatively geared property

Parental income above threshold reduces the rate of ABSTUDY by $1 in every $4 until the cut-off limit reached, at which nil ABSTUDY is payable

The income test free area is raised by:

  • $1230 for each additional dependent child aged <16 in family
  • Further $2562 for each subsequent dependent child aged <16
  • $3792 for each other YA student aged 1624 and unemployed YA aged 1620
  • $7585 for each YA student getting away from home rate

Student at home parental means test cut-off limits: (one dependent child in family)

  • 1617 year olds $40 903.20
  • 1820 year olds $44 241.60
  • 21+ $60 871.20

Dependent student living away from home parental means test cut-off limits:

(one dependent child in family)

  • 1620 year olds $54 588.40
  • 21+ years $60 871.20

YA independence applies where age 16+ and:

  • Earned 75 per cent or more of the Comm Training Award Rate for 18+ months
  • Worked for 18+ months for 30+hours a week
  • Worked part-time for 15+ hours a week for 2 years since leaving school
  • Aged 25+ and a full-time student

OR aged 1524 and:

  • Above school leaving age in State/Territory, and
  • Are a refugee, or orphan, or it is unreasonable to live at home
  • Are married, or lived de-facto for 12+ months
  • Has, or have had, a dependent child
  • Parent(s) cannot exercise their responsibilities, e.g. are in prison, psychiatric hospital or similar
  • Aged 18> and have a work history but who experience education or employment disadvantage

No effect on YA rate if parental income is <$24 388 per year, plus additional amount for each additional dependent children

Income is generally taxable income plus maintenance received, overseas income, employer provided fringe benefits, income from negatively geared property

Parental income above threshold reduces the rate of YA payable at by $1 in every $4 until the cut-off limit reached, at which nil YA is payable

The income test free area is raised by:

  • $1230 for each additional dependent child aged <16 in family
  • Further $2562 for each subsequent dependent child aged <16
  • $3792 for each other YA student aged 1624 and unemployed YA aged 1620
  • $7585 for each YA student getting away from home rate

Parental means test cut-off limits:

(one dependent child in family)

  • 1617 year old at home $40 903.20
  • 1617 year old away from home $54 588.40
  • 18+ at home $44 241.60
  • 18+ away from home $54 588.40

Personal Assets Test

If dependent on parents, no personal assets test applies

If independent, the assets test cut-off limits are:

  • $133 250 for a single independent young person, homeowner
  • $228 750 for a single independent young person, non-homeowner
  • $189 500 for a partnered independent young person, homeowner
  • $285 000 for a partnered independent young person,, non-homeowner

If independent, the assets test cut-off limits are:

  • $133 250 for a single independent young person, homeowner
  • $228 750 for a single independent young person, non-homeowner
  • $189 500 for a partnered independent young person, homeowner
  • $285 000 for a partnered independent young person, non-home-owner

Parental Assets Test

Parental assets test applies for dependent students

No ABSTUDY payable where family assets (excluding family home) exceed $438 250

No YA payable where family assets (excluding family home) exceed $438 250

Family Actual Means Test (FAMT)

Applies only for dependent students

FAMT is separate and additional to personal income test, parental income test and the personal and parental assets tests. FAMT doesn't apply where family income source is wages/salary. FAMT can apply where family income source includes self-employment, business loss, trust/company etc.

Applies to dependent students aged 16+

FAMT commonly applies where student is dependent and family is/has:

  • interest in a trust, private or unlisted public company
  • self employed

A formula applies to convert FAMT income levels to equivalent parental income and the parental income test limits for dependent ABSTUDY students apply

FAMT is separate and additional to personal income test, parental income test and the personal and parental assets tests.

FAMT doesn't apply where family income source is wages/salary. FAMT can apply where family income source includes self-employment, business loss, trust/company etc.

FAMT applies to dependent YA claimants and commonly applies where the family is/has:

  • interest in a trust, private or unlisted public company
  • self employed

A formula applies to convert FAMT income levels to equivalent parental income and the parental income test limits for dependent YA students apply

Single, at Home, Dependent on Parent(s)

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • U16 tertiary $21.20
  • U16 and 1617 in State care and Foster Care Allowance paid $158.80
  • U16 in State care and NO Foster Care Allowance paid $290.10
  • 1820 in State care and Foster Care Allowance paid $190.90
  • 1620 in State care and NO Foster Care Allowance paid $290.10
  • 1617 $158.80
  • 1820 $190.90
  • 21+ $350.80

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • 1617 $158.80
  • 1824 $190.90

YA for 1617 yr olds dependent on parents is paid to parents, not young person

Single Away from Home, Dependent on Parent(s)

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • U16 $158.80
  • 1620 $290.10
  • 21+ $350.80

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • $290.10

Same rate for all ages: where single, away from home and dependent on parents

Single: Independent

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • U16 $290.10
  • 1620 $290.10
  • U16 at home $158.80
  • 1617 at home $158.80
  • 1820 at home $190.90
  • 21+ $350.80
  • 60+ $379.30

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • 1617 $290.10
  • 1824 $290.10

Married/Partnered with No Dependent Child

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

If not legally married, partnered status requires de-facto relationship of 12 months+

  • U16 $290.10
  • 1620 $290.10
  • 21+ $316.40

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

If not legally married, partnered status requires de-facto relationship of 12 months+

  • $290.10

Married/Partnered with at Least One Dependent Child

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

If not legally married, partnered status requires de-facto relationship of 12 months+

  • U16 $318.60
  • 1620$318.60
  • 21+ $316.40

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

If not legally married, partnered status requires de-facto relationship of 12 months+

  • $318.60

Single With at Least One Dependent Child

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • U16 $380.10
  • 1620 $380.10
  • 21+ $379.30

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

  • $380.10

Rent Assistance (RA)

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

Payable to independent students paying private rent

RA for ABSTUDY recipients only payable to single, independent students living away from home

  • Single: max RA is $86.40 pf if rent paid >$75.00 pf
  • Partnered: max RA is $81.20 pf if rent paid >$122.20 pf

(maximum rates payable per fortnight)

Payable to independent students paying private rent

RA for YA recipients only payable to single, independent students living away from home

  • Single: max RA is $86.40 pf if rent paid >$75.00 pf
  • Partnered: max RA is $81.20 pf if rent paid >$122.20 pf

Fares Allowance: Tertiary Student Receiving the Away from Home Rate

Coverage is:

  • a single journey from permanent home to the tertiary education institution to start study for the year
  • one return journey between the institution and permanent home during the year (only if receiving YA for 6 months+)
  • a single journey between the institution and permanent home on completing or discontinuing studies
  • External studies students, are entitled to one return trip for each course enrolled in, that requires attendance at the institution for a residential component

Some students receiving ABSTUDY may qualify for additional Fares Allowance

Coverage is:

  • a single journey from permanent home to the tertiary education institution to start study for the year
  • one return journey between the institution and permanent home during the year (only if receiving YA for 6 months+)
  • a single journey between the institution and permanent home on completing or discontinuing studies
  • External studies students, are entitled to one return trip for each course enrolled in, that requires attendance at the institution for a residential component

Student Supplementary Loan Scheme

Each $1 of ABSTUDY can be converted to a $2 supplement. Is a repayable loan

Payable to all ABSTUDY qualified recipients

Also payable to a student not qualified to be paid ABSTUDY due to either parental income OR family actual means test AND parent's income is <$57 750

Each $1 of YA can be converted to a $2 supplement. Is a repayable loan

Must be qualified for YA and a tertiary student studying full-time

Also payable to a student not qualified to be paid YA due to either parental income OR family actual means test AND parent's income is <$57 750

Remote Area Allowance

(a tax free allowance)

  • Single $18.20 pf
  • Partnered $15.60 pf each

Plus for each dependent $7.30 pf

Can be eligible if resident in Tax Zone A or B

(a tax free allowance)

  • Single $18.20 pf
  • Partnered $15.60 pf each

Plus for each dependent $7.30 pf

Can be eligible if resident in Tax Zone A or B

School Term Allowance

Is paid to the parent/guardian caring for a student and is to help with expenses for books, uniforms and other school expenses

2001 fee rates for each term are:

1 $180

2 $80

3 $180

4 $80

Available in respect of ABSTUDY recipients who are either:

  • at secondary school aged <16 living at home (not independent); or
  • primary school students aged 14+ as of 1/1/2001

One of the following conditions must apply:

  • At least one parent on government pension/benefit/CDEP
  • Is an orphan, or homeless, or parents cannot provide parental responsibilities
  • In State care, living with foster parents and not reached State school leaving age
  • Parent(s) qualify for a low income Health Care Card

Nil

School Fees Allowance

(at home rates and conditions)

Paid for students aged >16 to help with the cost of school fees and payable in respect of:

  • Secondary students aged >16, at home; or
  • Primary students aged 14 as at 1 Jan of the year of study

One of the following conditions must apply:

  • At least one parent on Government pension/benefit/CDEP
  • Is an orphan or homeless or parents cannot provide parental responsibilities
  • In State care and living with foster parents
  • Parent/carer/guardian qualifies for a low income Health Care Card

2001 annual rates are:

  • at home and turning 16 before 1/7/2001 $150.00
  • at home U16 at 30/6/2001 $75.00

Nil

School Fees Allowance (for Boarders)

Paid in respect of students who are either:

  • eligible for the away from home rate of ABSTUDY or
  • an orphan or homeless or parents cannot provide parental responsibilities; or
  • secondary school student attending a non-government school as government school not locally available

Primary school students not eligible

Actual school costs up to $4999, of which $4049 is income test free and $950 is income tested

Nil

Away from Base Activities Costs

Actual transport and residential costs are covered: up to 6 return trips a year and 40 days of residential costs

Masters/Doctorate students can be paid up to $2000 per year

Assistance to cover fares and costs for attending away from school base activities including:

  • Programs testing and assessment (only 2 per year)
  • Residential schools
  • Field trips
  • Placements

Nil

Incidentals Allowance

Paid to help with the costs of general course expenses, e.g. union fees, text books, stationery and equipment

Periods of enrolment set amount payable:

  • <12 weeks $55.80
  • 1216 weeks $97.60
  • 1723 weeks $194.00
  • 24> weeks $394.90

Payable to:

  • Full and part-time tertiary students
  • Full and part-time secondary students aged 18> as at 1/1/2001
  • Masters/Doctorate students

Nil

Additional Incidentals Allowance

Payable where essential course costs exceed incidental allowance amounts, excluding tuition fees, computers, musical instruments etc.

Max of $2146.00 payable in one year

Periods of enrolment set amount payable:

  • <12 weeks $98.30
  • 1216 weeks $194.60
  • 1723 weeks $389.20
  • 24> weeks $779.50

Available to:

  • Full-time tertiary students
  • Masters/Doctorate students

Nil

Masters/Doctorate Allowance

Must provide proof of expenditure

Relocation allowance up to $465 per adult and $235 per child

Max payable is $1385.00

Supplementary payments payable to full-time Masters/Doctorate students including:

  • Payment of compulsory HECS or course fees (actual cost)
  • Thesis allowance >$430 for Masters and $860 for Doctorate

Nil

Lawful Custody Allowance

Payable for the costs of study while in lawful custody to cover essential costs of residential courses, daily travel, copy of reference texts

Nil

U16 Boarding Supplement

$1711.50 per semester

Nil

Residential Costs Option

$41.60 pf plus actual costs

Nil

Employment (Including Vocational Education and Training)

Indigenous-specific Programs

Other Comparable Programs

Community Development Employment Program (CDEP)

Newstart

Participants forgo Centrelink income benefits in favour of jobs administered by their communities. 63 per cent of the scheme's funds are off-set by participants' benefits and the remaining funds are 'on costs' provided by ATSIC for administration, materials etc. to support the work projects.

See the following comparison of CDEP and work for the dole schemes at the end of this employment section.

Supports unemployed people aged 25+ who satisfy specified activity and means tests.

Youth Allowance (YA)

supports students and unemployed people aged 1824 who satisfy specified activity and parental means tests.

Work for the Dole

administers some of the activities through which recipients of the above allowances may satisfy the activity test.

Indigenous Employment Program

Special Commonwealth programs

Assists Indigenous entry into private sector employment.

Assist other groups, for example

  • Return to Work program for those out of the workforce c 2 years (especially because of family responsibilities)
  • Programs for people with disabilities
  • JET scheme: pre-vocational training

There are also State employment and training programs for groups with special needs.

Vocational Education and Training

Vocational Education and Training

There is a Vocational Education and Training Component of the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program (IESIP) and of the Indigenous Education Direct Assistance program (IESIP).

Three Commonwealth mainstream programs also have a specific Indigenous VET component:

  • The Indigenous Youth Partnership Strategy: funds to help Indigenous youth to remain at or return to school and then move on to training and employment.
  • The Capital Infrastructure program: funds to assist States meet the need for improved or additional training facilities and infrastructure for Indigenous people.
  • The Small Business Professional Development Best Practice Program.

The Australian National Training Authority and State Governments also all funds Indigenous specific VET programs.

The Commonwealth funds a wide range of programs through the Vocational Education and Training Funding Act 1992 and the Australia National Training Authority Other Programs include the New Apprentices program, Workplace English Language and Literacy Program, Australian Student Traineeship Foundation.

Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) Compared to Work for the Dole (WfD)

For more on this subject see:

Who Participates?

The CDEP scheme commenced in 1977.

Under the scheme, members of participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or organisations can forgo any Centrelink Income Support benefit (except Abstudy or full time student Youth Allowance) for a wages grant paid to the community.

In June 2000 there were 262 CDEP organisations and 30 599 individual participants. Number of participants is controlled by the number of places funded by the Commonwealth Government. In 1996, the Coalition Government placed a cap on expansion of the scheme. In 1998, to counter worsening levels of Indigenous unemployment and to accommodate requests from communities for further projects, ATSIC unsuccessfully sought the removal of the cap and an expansion by 3200 places to the year 200102.

CDEP participants receive a wage from their CDEP organisation.

CDEP participants are counted as wage earners in the labour market statistics.

Work for the Dole was piloted in November 1997 with 10 000 places.

Jobseekers can be asked or can volunteer for WfD if they are a:

  • 1819 year old Year 12 school leaver who has been receiving Youth Allowance as a jobseeker for three months;
  • 1824 year old jobseeker who has been receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance for six months or more, or
  • 25 to 34 year old jobseeker who has been receiving Newstart Allowance for 12 months or more.

In addition, jobseekers who are 18 years old or more and receiving the full rate of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance may volunteer to participate in WfD.

WfD is funded for 50 000 places per year.

WfD participants receive Newstart allowance.

WfD participants are counted as jobseekers in the labour market statistics.

Is It Compulsory?

Participation in CDEP projects is not compulsory, there is no time limit on participation and community members can move on and off CDEP when circumstances change

WfD may be compulsory for those allowees who do not elect to participate in acceptable mutual obligation activities.

Participants are expected to undertake their work experience in one or more Work for the Dole projects/ activities for six months

Eligible job seekers can be required to participate in a Work for the Dole activity once in each 12 month period.

How Much Does It Cost?

The CDEP scheme is funded and administered by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

In monetary terms it is ATSIC's largest program with a total budget estimate of $450 million in 20002001. 63 per cent of total funding for CDEP is offset against participants' potential DSS entitlements, estimated to be $249 million in 19992000.(Source ATSIC annual report)

Funding grants for the CDEP scheme comprise two components:

  • CDEP Wages: used to pay participants for work done on CDEP activities.
  • CDEP Oncosts including Capital and recurrent costs.

The Department of Finance uses the following formulae to allocate funds to ATSIC for CDEP (these rates are per-capita):

  • CDEP Wages: Average Per Participant rate: remote: $194.58 pw, non-remote: $175.24 pw (adjusted biannually in line with CPI).
  • CDEP Oncosts: $3012 per participant per annum. (Source: ATSIC officer)

The WfD scheme is funded and administered by the Dept of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. (DEWRSB)

The 20002001 budget estimates for the scheme are $104.5 million.

Latest DEWRSB figures cost a WfD placement at $2100. The two major components are the management fee and the work experience fee. (Source: DEWRSB officer)

Management Fee

Community Work Coordinators receive a fee to provide management services such as generating and developing work experience opportunities, liaison with Centrelink, interviewing eligible job seekers, monitoring sponsor organisations and participants and reporting to the Commonwealth

Work Experience Fee

Community Work Coordinators and/or sponsor organisations receive a Work Experience fee to provide work experience opportunities. The Work Experience fee covers items such as supervision of Work for the Dole participants, lease of capital equipment, additional participant insurance (if required), training, protective clothing etc for each participant.

Aims

The original objective was to assist in the development of communities through work programs and achieve greater economic, social and cultural strength. Whist still retaining socio-cultural objectives CDEP has in recent years reoriented to emphasise business development, employment and training strategies and linkages with government agencies and the private sector to access commercial opportunities.

The 19992000 performance indicators reflect various outcomes, including:

640 income-generating activities were conducted by 262 CDEP organisations

437 contracts undertaken by CDEPs to provide service outside CDEPs

1064 participants were involved in accredited training

In 199798, 350 apprenticeships resulted from linkages between the CDEP scheme and ATSIC's Community Housing and Infrastructure Program.

To develop work habits by participating in community projects. To develop a work culture rather than a welfare culture.

WfD is not a training scheme. The Minister, The Hon. Tony Abbott, estimated that accredited training would cost up to an extra $2000 per participant. (Source: Hansard 5 June 2000)

Training Subsidies/ Incentives

Since September 1999, a CDEP Placement Incentive has existed as part of the Government's Indigenous Employment Policy (IEP). The placement incentive provides an incentive to CDEP sponsors for placing each of their participants in employment and off CDEP. 158 placements were approved in 19992000.

  • Other incentives (not CDEP related) for Indigenous employment exist under the Indigenous Employment Policy (IEP) These include the Wage Assistance Programme
  • Structured Training and Employment Project (STEP)
  • Corporate leaders for Indigenous Employment Project.

No training subsidies exist

Health

Indigenous-specific Programs

Other Comparable Programs

Aboriginal Medical Services

Medicare

Funding for Aboriginal Medical Services largely substitutes for expenditure under general programs.

In 199899 estimated Medicare benefit paid per person was $143 for Indigenous people and $350 for non-Indigenous. The Indigenous benefit averaging only 0.41 per cent of the non-Indigenous.

In 199899 estimated Pharmaceutical benefit paid per person was $50 for Indigenous people and $150 for non-Indigenous. The Indigenous benefit averaging only 0.33 per cent of the non-Indigenous.

See Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Expenditures on Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People 199899, 2001, p. 31.

In addition, it should be noted that there are numerous health programs, both State and federal, which are directed towards particular sections of the community to address specific health needs. Examples include

  • Family Planning
  • Women's Health Centres
  • Migrant Health Centres
  • Ethnic Mental Health Network programs
  • Torture and Trauma programs
  • Children's health services
  • Various programs for the elderly
  • Rural men's and rural women's health programs etc.

Epidemiology, Disease-specific Programs and Indigenous Beneficiary Groups

Epidemiology, Disease-specific Programs and Non-Indigenous Beneficiary Groups

Some programs target diseases rather than populations. When the diseases are particularly prevalent in Indigenous communities, these communities are substantial beneficiaries.

For example, the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program treats Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients, but the epidemiology of eye diseases makes the program of particular significance to Indigenous communities.

Some programs target diseases rather than populations. A number target diseases which are particularly prevalent in certain populations, making those groups the main beneficiaries.

Examples include research on and treatment of Alzheimer's (predominantly found among the elderly) and HIV/AIDS (of particular benefit to the gay community and IV drug users) and certain occupational illnesses.

Housing

Indigenous-specific Programs

Other Comparable Programs

ATSIC Housing Loans

Means-Tested, Low Interest Housing Loans

Provide a sliding scale of means tested assistance to Indigenous people who met the following criteria. They must

  • have a combined gross weekly incomes (the main income earner's income and half the spouse's income) must be £ $150 per cent of National Weekly Male Earnings
  • be able in the case of the main income earner, to show a stable work record for the twelve months preceding the application
  • have a satisfactory tenancy record if renting a house
  • be able to pay the required minimum deposit towards the purchase price of the house (5 per cent of the purchase price or $3000; or $1500 if the family income is less than $25 000, which ever is the less)
  • be able to pay all legal and stamp duty costs (though in some instances these amounts may be borrowed)

Loans may be granted for

  • purchase of new residences or
  • essential upgrading or extension of existing properties

Most loans begin on 4.5 per cent pa, rising by 0.5 per cent annually until the interest rate reaches the ATSIC Home Loan Rate, currently 5.8 per cent. This rate is reviewed quarterly but capped so that it will not exceed a rate 1 per cent below the Commonwealth Bank Standard Variable Home Loan Interest Rate.

Loan repayments are generally set at between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the main income earner's gross monthly income and half of the spouse/partner's gross monthly income, and they are required to be made at least monthly.

The loans program is largely self-funding, and makes around 450 loans per year. See this site.

Some States also have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing programs. (i.e. the W.A. Governments' Aboriginal Home Ownership Scheme).

Are provided by State and Territory governments. Terms, services and conditions vary; examples include:

  • SA: HomeStart assists low and moderate income earners. Maximum repayments are 25 per cent of income at the time of application for the first year of the loan, increasing annually in line with inflation.
  • HomeStart's 'Advantage Loan' provides a sliding scale of loans to borrowers with low income.
  • WA: Keystart home loan scheme: low and moderate income households; Good Start: assists people who do not have enough savings and income to access Keystart or other finance. Buyer purchases minimum of 50 per cent of property and Homeswest buys remainder; buyer later purchases Homeswest's share;
  • NT: HomeNorth assists low to middle income earners with deposit; provides a first mortgage loan scheme; assists Housing Commission tenants to purchase their rental property; provides an interest subsidy to help middle income families borrow from commercial lenders; and offers a shared equity home ownership scheme for Housing Commission tenants;
  • Tas.: Home Ownership Assistance Program (HOAP) helps low and moderate income earners, including public housing tenants, to buy homes;
  • NSW: Mortgage Assistance Scheme for emergency relief of those in imminent danger of homelessness due to inability to meet mortgage repayments. Office of Community Housing supports the expansion of community housing sector;
  • Vic.: Office of Housing offers various Community Housing, Home Finance and Group Self Build programs.
  • ACT: Mortgage Relief program which provides short-term interest free loans to people who by virtue of unemployment or ill health have trouble paying their home loan and Stamp Duty Relief to first home buyers or those re-entering home ownership where household income is low.

The States provide additional housing assistance to certain groups, e.g. the elderly, disabled, state employees (e.g. NSW Teacher Housing Authority, WA Government Employees Housing Authority).

Rental

Through the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program (ARHP) the Federal government attempts to provide appropriate, affordable and accessible shelter for Indigenous low to moderate income earners and their families. The dwellings are Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement stock that are put aside for allocation to Indigenous households only. Nearly 14 000 households were assisted by the (ARHP) for the financial year 1998-99. Of these, the majority were paying less than market rent (84 per cent). At 30 June 1999 there were 11 435 households occupying ARHP housing. The 1999 CSHA granted $91 million annual funding for the ARHP, guaranteed for four years. See the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Indigenous Housing page.

Bilateral agreements on housing between federal and State/Territory governments provide for a range of mainstream rental assistance. For some background on the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement and international comparisons see, Dugald Munro, 'Public Rental Housing Policy: Learning the Lessons from Overseas', Research Paper, no. 6, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 199798.

Means tested rental assistance is available through Centrelink and supports around one million low-income families and individuals. For a list of rates and exclusions, see the Centrelink website and Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, 19992000 Portfolio Budget Statements, 1999, p. 55.

The States provide public housing with means-tested rent. Costs and eligibility conditions vary.

Emergency and Special Needs

Aboriginal Hostels Ltd (AHL) provides 2900 beds in 140 hostels (199798 figures). Hostels are owned by either AHL or by community organisations or by community organisations who operate them using AHL grants.

Emergency and Special Needs

A Crisis payment has been available since July 1999 to assists people who qualify for a social security pension or benefit, are suffering severe financial hardship and either have to set up a new home (e.g. having just been released from gaol) or are forced to leave their home because of an extreme event (e.g. domestic violence or house burning down).

The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program provides longer-term support for the homeless and those in crisis.

There are also various State emergency housing programs.

Housing-Related Environmental Health

ATSIC's Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) addresses environmental health needs such as house construction and repairs, water and sewerage connection and provision of roads and other infrastructure in Aboriginal communities. CHIP is ATSIC's second largest area of expenditure.

State, Territory and local governments oversee provision of water, sewerage, electricity, roads and related services.

Legal Services

Indigenous-specific Programs

Other Comparable Programs

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

Legal Aid

Funded by ATSIC

Names and services vary from State to State: for example, Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Corporations for Legal Services offer only criminal law services; South Australia's Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) offers criminal, civil and family law services but its 'conflict policy' excludes cases between two Indigenous clients.

ATSIC is also presently establishing Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Prevention Units in high need regional locations, as a response to needs identified in several reports. See:

Since July 1 1997, legal aid for matters arising under State law is funded by the States, through Legal Aid Commissions.

The Commonwealth funds legal aid in Commonwealth matters.

In addition, special Commonwealth programs assist other groups e.g. the insolvent and their creditors through Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia. The States variously fund programs (other than the Legal Aid Commissions) which provide legal assistance to certain groups with special needs e.g. people with mental illnesses, victims of domestic violence. See Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee, Inquiry into the Australian Legal Aid System: Third Report, June 1998, pp. 267269

This publication was written by Dr John Gardiner-Garden, with input from colleagues Coral Dow and Peter Yeend, and based on earlier work done by Dr Marion Maddox.

Commonwealth of Australia
Research Papers Online are written for Members of Parliament, being located on the Internet they can be read by members of the public, however some linked items are available to Members of Parliament only, due to copyright reasons.

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