Commonwealth Policy on Indigenous Affairs
There have been a number of significant policy announcements related to
regional and remote Indigenous communities during 2008 and 2009. This chapter
provides a summary of these policy announcements and developments that are most
relevant to the committee's inquiry, as well as describing the overarching
policy frameworks that the committee considers are impacting on the management
of Indigenous Affairs at the Commonwealth level. It also sets out Indigenous
specific funding that was announced by the Commonwealth government in the
One of the issues that has frustrated the committee, and which has been
raised a number of times in meetings and in evidence,
is the seeming lack of a clear and transparent policy framework governing the
operation of Indigenous Affairs in Australia. In this chapter the committee has
attempted to bring together available policy statements and structures to
describe the current state of Indigenous Affairs.
Closing the Gap policy
The 'Closing the Gap' policy was developed out of a three year campaign
that commenced in 2005 with a coalition of non government organisations calling
for strategies to 'close the gap' between the life expectancy rates for
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Following this campaign, in March 2008, the National Indigenous Health
Equality Summit was held in Canberra. During this summit the Commonwealth
government and Indigenous and non-Indigenous health organisations signed the Close
the Gap Indigenous Health Equality Summit Statement of Intent (Statement of
Intent). The committee notes that the Statement of Intent committed the
Commonwealth government to working with health organisations to achieve
equality in health status and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples by the year 2030.
The main signatories to the Statement of Intent were the:
Leader of the Opposition;
Minister for Health and Ageing;
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Presidents and Chairs of the four main Indigenous health peak
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation;
Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association;
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses;
Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia;
Presidents and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the four main
mainstream health peak bodies;
Australian Medical Association;
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners;
Royal College of Australasian Physicians;
Australian General Practice Network; and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
of the Australian Human Rights Commission (then the Human Rights and Equal
The committee also notes that during the National Apology to the Stolen
Generations on 13 February 2008, the Prime Minister pledged a new national
effort aimed at closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and
new partnership on closing the gap will set concrete targets for the future:
within a decade to halve the widening gap in literacy, numeracy and employment
outcomes and opportunities for Indigenous children, within a decade to halve
the appalling gap in infant mortality rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
children and, within a generation, to close the equally appalling 17-year life
gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous when it comes to overall life
This was followed by the Commonwealth's announcement of six targets
intended to 'Close the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage'. These were:
To halve the mortality gap between Indigenous children and other
children under five within a decade;
To provide access to early childhood education for all Indigenous
four-year-olds in remote communities within five years;
To halve the gap in literacy and numeracy achievement between
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other students within a
To halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students
in rates of year 12 attainment or an equivalent attainment by 2020;
To halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and
non-Indigenous Australians within a decade; and
To finally close the shameful gap in life expectancy between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
These targets were adopted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
at their meeting of 2 October 2008.
The committee notes that the Commonwealth government has outlined four
pillars in its strategy to address Indigenous disadvantage. These are:
all efforts in Indigenous policy must be governed by the sincere
objective of closing the gap;
resetting the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
rebuilding the everyday social norms that underpin strong
families and healthy communities; and
building of partnerships across all sectors of the Australian
community to help to close the gap, where the wider community—including
business, the education sector, sporting groups and the community sector at
large—become partners in bringing about measurable change in Indigenous
communities and Indigenous lives.
Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Fiscal Relations
COAG is the intergovernmental forum in Australia, comprising the Prime
Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the
Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). On 29 November 2008 COAG agreed
to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Fiscal Relations
(Intergovernmental Agreement). This agreement is intended to provide an
overarching framework for the Commonwealth’s financial relations with the
states and territories.
The Intergovernmental Agreement commenced on 1 January 2009. Each
Special Purpose Payment (SPP) made to the states and territories to
carry out certain functions and services is associated with a National
Agreement that contains objectives, outcomes, outputs and performance
indicators, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities intended to guide the
Commonwealth and states and territories in the delivery of services across the
relevant sectors. Under this Intergovernmental Agreement COAG has agreed to six
new National Agreements—National Healthcare Agreement, National Education
Agreement, National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, National
Disability Agreement, National Affordable Housing Agreement, and the National
Indigenous Reform Agreement.
National Indigenous Reform
The National Indigenous Reform Agreement is intended to drive the
policies to 'close the gap' in Indigenous disadvantage. The Committee notes
that COAG will next meet in Darwin on 2 July 2009, with this meeting stated as having
a special focus on addressing Indigenous disadvantage. At this meeting COAG is
due to consider an Integrated Strategy for Closing the Gap to be incorporated
into the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.
The National Indigenous Reform Agreement sets out six 'building blocks'
or platforms upon which COAG intends the reform agenda to be based. These are
proposed to be:
The committee notes that the Commonwealth government has committed $3.6
billion overall to the COAG National Indigenous Reform Agenda.
National Partnership Agreements
COAG has also agreed to a number of National Partnership Agreements
which are new forms of payments to fund specific projects and to facilitate and
reward states and territories that deliver on agreed reforms. The committee
notes that the financial arrangements will include incentive payments to reward
The committee will attempt to monitor the amount and timing of these incentive
payments as well as gauge the impact this approach is having on improving the
effectiveness of state and territory government policies.
The National Partnership Agreements related to Indigenous service
Remote Indigenous Service Delivery;
Indigenous Economic Participation;
Indigenous Early Childhood Development;
Indigenous Health; and
Remote Indigenous Housing.
Remote Indigenous Service Delivery
Through this Agreement, the Commonwealth, the states and Northern
Territory governments have agreed to improve access to government services
including early childhood, health, housing and welfare services all through a
single government interface.
This Agreement intends to provide $291.2 million over six years with the
Commonwealth government agreeing to provide $187.7 million with the aim of
improving access to services for Indigenous people living in 26 remote
communities. The Commonwealth government has stated that it intends to create a
new service delivery model in these communities to clearly identify service
standards, roles and responsibilities that people living in these communities
will be able to rely upon.
The 26 communities chosen are:
New South Wales
Fitzroy Crossing and surrounding communities
Halls Creek and surrounding communities
The Dampier Peninsula, focused on Ardyaloon and Beagle Bay.
While the committee is pleased to note the intention of this Agreement,
it is concerned about the policy decision making process. As discussed in
Chapter 4 there is a high degree of confusion and uncertainty about how these
26 communities were chosen out the estimated 1 187 discrete Indigenous
communities in Australia.
This is discussed further in Chapter 4.
National Partnership on Indigenous
Early Childhood Development
At its July 2008 meeting the committee notes that COAG agreed to a
National Partnership to address the needs of Indigenous children in their early
years. The National Partnership commenced on 1 January 2009 with joint funding
of $564 million over six years to 2014, of which the Commonwealth government has
committed to contributing $489.6 million.
This Partnership is stated to be based on evidence that improvements in
Indigenous child mortality require better access to antenatal care, teenage
reproductive and sexual health services, child and maternal health services and
integrated child and family services.
The Partnership documents state that the Partnership will consist of
Establishing a minimum of 35 Children and Family Centres across
Australia in areas of high Indigenous population and disadvantage;
Increasing access to antenatal care, pre-pregnancy and teenage
sexual and reproductive health programs by Indigenous young people; and
Increasing access to, and use of, maternal and child health
services by Indigenous families.
The committee notes that the Children and Family Centres are due to
commence operation from June 2010.
National Framework for Protecting
At a meeting on 30 April 2009 COAG agreed to the National Framework for
Protecting Australia’s Children. The Framework seeks to deliver a substantial
reduction in child abuse and neglect in Australia and outlines priority actions
for the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. These include a
National Standard for Out-of-Home Care; improved support for young people
leaving care; working closely together on enhanced service integration in key
disadvantaged communities; and improved access to early intervention and
prevention services, including quality child care for children at risk. It is
intended that COAG will receive an annual report on the progress of the first
three-year action plan.
The committee notes that governments are set to develop an
implementation plan to be considered in August 2009. This plan is intended to:
...be a key tool in measuring progress of the National
Framework. All jurisdictions and stakeholders will be able to monitor progress
against activities and milestones outlined in the Implementation Plan. A set of
performance indicators will be developed as part of the Implementation Plan,
providing another opportunity to monitor progress and outcomes. Reporting
processes for the National Framework will provide an opportunity to streamline existing
reporting processes to ensure greater levels of transparency.
The committee looks forward to the development of performance indicators
to measure progress in these areas and hopes they will go some way to assist in
improving data collection and reporting on child protection issues.
Health National Partnership
The Health National Partnership was agreed on 29 November 2008 which
commits to funding of $1.6 billion over four years, with the Commonwealth committed
to contributing $806 million and the states and territories $772 million. This
is intended to assist in achieving the 'closing the gap' targets, to close the
life expectancy gap within a generation and halve the mortality gap for
children under five within a decade.
The Health National Partnership is described by COAG as ‘a down payment
on the significant investment needed by both levels of government to close the
unacceptable gap in health and other outcomes between Indigenous and
and is, according to COAG, focused on:
reduced smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
reduced burden of diseases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
increased uptake of Medicare Benefits Schedule-funded primary
care services to Indigenous people with half of the adult population (15-65
years) receiving two adult health checks over the next four years;
significantly improved coordination of care across the care
over time, a reduction in average length of hospital stay and
reduction in readmissions.
The Agreement states that these targets are to include delivering health
checks to 55 per cent of the adult Indigenous population (around 155 000
people) over 5 years with about 600 000 chronic disease services delivered in
the same period. The Agreement also commits to provide more than 90 000
Indigenous people with a chronic disease with a self-management program and
around 74 500 Indigenous people with financial assistance to improve access to
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines.
The committee will follow the progress of this initiative and will attempt to
gather further details on such issues as the number of Indigenous adults now
receiving health checks, what chronic diseases are being targeted and the
impact this is having.
National Partnership on Remote
The committee notes that all state governments and the Northern
Territory government have agreed to a 10 year National Partnership on remote
Indigenous housing, in which the Commonwealth government has committed to
providing $1.94 billion over 10 years ($834.6 million over five years) in an attempt
to address overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and the severe
housing shortage in remote Indigenous communities.
The intended results of the housing package over 10 years are:
construction of up to 4 200 houses and major upgrades and repairs
4 800 houses in the 26 communities referred to above at paragraph 2.18.
improved tenancy management services to ensure rental houses are
well maintained, rent is collected and support services are in place;
economic development opportunities through increased local
training and employment opportunities in construction and housing management;
an ongoing maintenance and repairs program;
upgrades to housing related infrastructure in remote communities,
including town camps; and
access to affordable accommodation options in regional centres to
support employment, education and training opportunities in regional areas.
The committee notes that the National Partnership also attempts to clarify
the responsibilities of the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory
governments, asserting that the states and the Northern Territory are to be the
main deliverer of housing in remote Indigenous communities, through a standardised
tenancy management and support framework.
The National Partnership commenced on 1 January 2009. The state, territory
and Commonwealth governments have stated that they will work towards clearer
roles and responsibilities and funding for municipal services and maintenance
of infrastructure and essential services in remote areas.
The committee considers that clarity in funding and responsibility
across states and territories is an area that has caused a great deal of
confusion and significant inefficiencies and will monitor the progress made
through this Agreement during the life of this inquiry.
Indigenous Economic Development
Under the Indigenous Economic Development National Partnership the
Commonwealth and state and territory governments have committed to investing
$228.8 million ($172.7 million Commonwealth funding and $56.2 million state and
territory funding over five years) to assist up to 13 000 Indigenous people
The initiative is intended to create jobs in areas of government service
delivery that have previously relied on subsidies through the Community
Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program. The Partnership also commits to
a review of career development strategies for public sector Indigenous
employment with the stated aim of increasing Indigenous public sector
employment to reflect the Indigenous working age population share by 2015. All
governments have also committed to strengthening current procurement policies with
the aim of maximising Indigenous employment, skills development and business
The National Partnership states that both Commonwealth and state and
territory governments are investing significantly in capital development,
procurement and service delivery through other COAG reforms, and that Indigenous
workforce strategies are to be built into implementation plans for all reforms to
contribute to the closing the gap targets.
The committee urges COAG to accurately record and report on the creation
of these jobs and employee retention and will report on progress made through
the Indigenous Economic Development National Partnership.
Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services
The committee notes that on 27 May 2009 the Commonwealth government
introduced legislation to create a statutory office for the Coordinator General
for Remote Indigenous Services, as agreed by COAG. The Commonwealth government
has committed $9 million over four years to the creation of this office in its
The Commonwealth government has outlined the role of the
Coordinator-General as being responsible for the implementation of reforms in
housing, infrastructure and employment in remote Indigenous communities, and is
to report to the Commonwealth Minister for Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Coordinator-General will formally report publicly
twice a year on the development and delivery of remote services and on the
progress that has been made in achieving the closing the gap targets.
The Minister has stated that '...the position will be given the authority to
coordinate across agencies, to cut through bureaucratic blockages and red tape,
and to make sure services are delivered effectively'.
The committee notes that the Commonwealth government announced the
appointment of Mr Brian Gleeson as the Coordinator-General on 18 June 2009. The
Mr Gleeson's broad experience will be invaluable in his role
as Coordinator-General, with responsibility to drive the implementation of the
Council of Australian Governments' reforms in housing, infrastructure and
employment in remote Indigenous communities. I will be asking Mr Gleeson to
include a special focus on implementing the Government's $125 million
Transformation Plan in the Alice Springs town camps.
The committee will monitor the newly created role of the Commonwealth
Coordinator-General in the implementation of the Alice Springs Transformation
Plan. The committee asked the Department
of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
(FaHCSIA) for information about the Transformation Plan at its Canberra hearing
on 9 June 2009.
FaHCSIA have advised the committee that the Transformation Plan is intended to
support the Commonwealth's 'closing the gap' targets in Alice Springs and
involves $125 million in expenditure. $100 million of this is already announced
expenditure from the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing for
housing and infrastructure upgrades and reforms in the Alice Springs town
camps. An additional $25 million will be allocated to service delivery and housing
assistance in the greater Alice Springs area to address homelessness. This
includes temporary accommodation facilities.
The committee is pleased that the Plan also intends to address
coordination and service delivery issues and notes that:
The ongoing improved coordination of Government services and
facilities in Alice Springs will also be part of the Plan...
...next steps include completing implementation of a governance
framework, establishing implementation teams and plans, completing a service
delivery analysis of relevant services in Alice Springs, identifying available
funding further to the initial Government investment and compiling a
communications and community engagement plan.
The committee also notes that the Northern Territory government has announced
a Northern Territory Coordinator-General position as part of its new A
Working Future policy, further outlined in Chapter 5.
The Northern Territory cabinet has attributed some funding to
us to set up a service delivery coordination unit, so we will be providing
resources out of that service delivery coordination unit into the operations
centre to jointly coordinate...The Coordinator-General has been appointed for the
Northern Territory, Bob Beadman, so he will work with the Australian
government’s Coordinator-General, once that person is announced.
The committee intends to monitor the overall effectiveness of the
Coordinator-General positions and report on any significant changes to the
coordination of remote service delivery that may result.
Measuring and reporting under COAG
The committee notes that the COAG framework places strong emphasis on
reporting requirements and includes the disaggregation of indicators by
Indigenous and non-Indigenous status. This is intended to provide a clear
picture of progress towards meeting the published targets.
In an attempt to provide consistency across the delivery of the National
Partnership Agreements, the committee notes that COAG has agreed to service
delivery and investment principles for remote areas which are intended to apply
to all states and territories.
Performance indicators and benchmarks under each COAG target are yet to
be developed. The committee notes that individual target trajectories are still
being developed and are expected to be ready in time for the July 2009 COAG
As the Minster for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs noted in her 2009-10 Budget Statement on 'Closing the Gap':
in data collection and analysis will be necessary at both a Commonwealth and
State level to enable meaningful reporting against Closing the Gap targets. The
Government is currently negotiating improved Indigenous data collection and
collation at a Commonwealth and State level to support the implementation of a
national performance reporting framework. This will enhance public
accountability for funding under the new framework for federal financial
arrangements agreed through COAG.
The committee notes the allocation of $1.5 million over three years for
a clearinghouse which is intended to gather and disseminate evidence on
effective policy interventions to address Indigenous disadvantage in the
2009-10 Budget. The state and territory governments have also committed to
matching this funding.
The committee agrees that more meaningful use of data is required
however it is concerned that policy affecting Indigenous people is developed
and then implemented without having adequate regard to the evidence presented
in the data. The committee's views on improvements to the collection and use of
data are detailed further in Chapter 3.
Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators Report
The committee notes that in April 2002, COAG commissioned a regular
report against key indicators of Indigenous disadvantage from the Steering Committee
for the Review of Government Service Provision which is supported by the
Productivity Commission. Reports on Indigenous disadvantage were released in
2003, 2005 and 2007, and are intended to inform governments about whether
policy, programs and interventions are achieving positive outcomes for
The fourth edition of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage
report is due to be released in mid-2009.
The Productivity Commission also produces a compendium on services relevant to
Indigenous people as part of the annual Report on Government Services. The most
recent compendium was released in April 2009.
The Report on Government Services is intended to focus on the efficiency
and effectiveness of specific services while the Overcoming Indigenous
Disadvantage report focuses on outcomes for Indigenous people and does not
report on individual government services. The reporting framework has been
developed with two tiers: ‘headline’ indicators for the longer term outcomes
sought; and a second tier of ‘strategic change indicators’ that are intended to
be able to be responsive to government policies and programs over the short
The Indigenous Disadvantage Report describes the overall
‘state-of-the-nation’ outcomes for Indigenous people, with a view to all
government departments and agencies together being responsible and therefore
there is no reporting on an individual government agency basis. The committee
notes that the Indigenous Disadvantage Report does not necessarily feature state
and territory comparisons and nor does it focus on government service
Commonwealth government Budget 2009-10
The committee notes that the Commonwealth government—in the 2009-10
budget measures relevant to regional and remote Indigenous communities—has
primarily focused on 'closing the gap' policies through committing $1.3 billion
over four years. A significant proportion of this—$807.4 million—is intended to
be directed to initiatives under the Northern Territory Emergency Response
(NTER), which the committee now notes is referred to in the Budget Papers as 'Closing
the Gap in the Northern Territory'.
The 2009-10 budget measures cover four broad categories:
a focus on remote Australia;
Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory; and
resetting the relationship with Indigenous Australians.
In the 2009-10 Budget, the Commonwealth government committed $202.4
million in net expenditure over five years to Community Development Employment
Projects Program (CDEP) and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP) Reform.
The committee notes that the intended changes to CDEP include the
abolition of CDEP in non-remote areas within established economies from July 1
2009. The 2009-10 Budget Papers state that in communities with limited and
emerging economies, the CDEP program will be restructured into two streams.
a Work Readiness Service stream that will provide a personal
development pathway for job seekers from foundation skills to work readiness,
including through the provision of up to 3,000 paid on-the-job work experience
placements, with wage subsidies provided to work experience employers as an
incentive to create these opportunities; and
a Community Development stream, which will fund community
projects and build the capacity of local communities, service providers and
The committee notes the Commonwealth government's intent to invest
additional resources in Indigenous economic participation and will be monitoring
its success in creating jobs and supporting Indigenous people into employment.
The committee also notes that savings of $326.7 million over five years from
the CDEP reforms will be 'redirected to fund the creation of more employment
and training opportunities for Indigenous people.'
A focus on remote Australia
The committee notes that these budget measures have committed a total
expenditure of $89.1 million, mostly in health measures, with $58.3 million
over four years committed to improve eye and ear health services for Indigenous
Australians. Some of this allocation is intended for rural and remote areas to
help the 20 000 Indigenous children with severe middle-ear infections. The
funding is expected to assist 1 000 extra operations to correct eye and ear
problems, and establish more than 10 regional teams to help prevent cases of
middle-ear infection in the Northern Territory. The committee notes this
commitment and will monitor how many Indigenous children are assisted through
this funding and how effective the regional teams are in addressing this
serious issue affecting children in regional and remote Indigenous communities.
There is also a Commonwealth government commitment of $11 million over
four years to improve access to dental care services for Indigenous people in
rural and remote areas. The committee notes that in order to achieve this
improvement the Commonwealth government has announced a trial of mobile dental
The Commonwealth government has also committed to evaluating this trial and the
committee will monitor any improvements in dental health.
The committee also notes that Dental Health Services Victoria stated in
their submission that unless other determinants of oral health are addressed—such
personal health practices and coping strategies, hygiene and socio-economic
status—Indigenous people in regional and remote communities will continue to
have some of the highest rates of oral disease.
Finally, a further $3.8 million is committed over four years to extend
the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services pathology program which
the committee notes is due to end on 31 July 2009. This program aims to improve
the management of diabetes by providing Indigenous communities with access to
on-site blood testing at participating medical services sites.
Closing the Gap in the Northern
The Commonwealth government has committed $807.4 million over three
years with the intention of continuing measures referred to as 'Closing the Gap'
in the Northern Territory. As the committee noted earlier in this chapter this
measure was previously referred to as the NTER. The committee notes that the
Commonwealth government in the budget papers noted that the government is 'moving
the NTER to a sustainable development phase to ensure measures will be
effective in the long term'.
$34.6 million of the $807.4 million has been committed over three years
to facilitate engagement with Indigenous leadership, increase communications
with communities, and for specific consultations prior to the intended lifting of
the suspension of the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1976 (RDA).
The committee notes that other Commonwealth government commitments in
the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory budget measures include:
$156.6 million over three years intended to continue law and
order activities, such as funding 60 Northern Territory police officers to
replace Federal Police officers deployed under the initial NTER, five permanent
and ten temporary police stations, as well as activities supporting alcohol and
$131 million over three years intended to improve primary care
services in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory with
follow-up treatments of children for ear, nose and throat conditions and dental
problems identified through NTER; the continuation of the Remote Area Health
Corps which provides doctors, nurses and other health workers in remote areas;
and an expansion of the existing outreach service that sends teams to treat
children injured in abuse-related circumstances;
$105.9 million, primarily in 2009–10, intended to continue income
management and financial advice to income support recipients;
$84.1 million intended to continue field operations, including
the presence of Government Business Managers and interpreter services;
$80.2 million over three years intended to continue 81 night
$45.7 million over three years intended to continue and expand
$37.5 million over three years towards the intended continuation
of the School Nutrition Program;
$32.9 million over three years intended to continue family
support services that include a mobile child protection team and the operation
of safe houses;
$28.4 million over three years intended for youth diversionary
$18.3 million over three years intended to continue maintaining
and improving community stores;
$11.2 million towards proposed additional houses for teachers in
$11 million over three years intended to continue
whole-of-government co-ordination and program management and evaluation;
$10 million for a proposed Local Priorities fund in 2009-10 to
address minor service and infrastructure gaps as part of planning and community
$9.1 million over three years intended to fund eight new crèches.
Resetting the relationship with
The Commonwealth government has also committed $64.2 million in
expenditure which is stated to be for the purpose of creating a new relationship
with Indigenous people.
This includes proposed funds of:
$26.6 million over four year for an Indigenous Healing Foundation
which is proposed to help members of the Stolen Generation suffering trauma;
$13.8 million over four years which is intended to help members
of the Stolen Generation find families and communities;
$13 million over four years for an Indigenous Electoral Education
Program intended to improve Indigenous participation in the electoral system;
$10.8 million to Reconciliation Australia for the stated purpose
of education and awareness programs to foster better relationships between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
As noted above, the 2009-10 Budget allocates $26.6 million over four
years for an Indigenous Healing Foundation.
The committee notes that FaHCSIA is currently undertaking consultations
with organisations and individuals, and intends to conduct national community
workshops for the purpose of gathering community input into the Foundation. The
development team is comprised of nine individuals with expertise in Indigenous
healing and issues related to the Stolen Generations.
The committee also notes that a report is expected to be provided to the Commonwealth
government by 30 September 2009 on the consultations.
National Indigenous Representative Body
As noted in Chapter 4 of the committee's first report in 2008, the Commonwealth
government invited the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner to convene a steering committee tasked with developing a preferred
model for a national Indigenous representative body.
The committee notes that a number of workshops and consultations have
been held nationally with the steering committee due to present its preferred
model by July 2009 and to recommend an interim body for establishment from
Statement of support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
The committee notes that on 3 April 2009 the Commonwealth government signed
the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with
qualified support. The Declaration was originally endorsed on 17 September
2007, with 144 nations voting in support of the Declaration. At the time Australia
was one of four countries that voted against the Declaration.
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