Commonwealth Policy on Indigenous Affairs
This chapter outlines national Indigenous policy and program
developments since the committee's last report in November 2009. In particular,
this chapter examines the status of the Council of Australian Governments
(COAG) 'Closing the Gap' in Indigenous Disadvantage initiative.
This chapter also looks at key Indigenous housing, education, health and
employment and enterprise initiatives across the nation since the committee's
The Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote
Indigenous Communities, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion wrote to the Minister
for Families, Housing, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs, the
Hon Jenny Macklin, MP, on 24 February 2010 with a series of questions
on notice and follow up from previous reports. The response was not received in
time to incorporate in this report. The Minister's evidence will be included in
the committee's final report which will be tabled in the second half of 2010.
Clear and Transparent Strategy
In its second report, the committee outlined its overall frustration,
which had been raised a number of times in meetings and in evidence, with the
lack of a clear and transparent policy framework governing the operations of Indigenous
affairs in Australia.
The committee retains its concern that there is no publicly available,
clear and transparent policy framework for Indigenous affairs in Australia. The
committee notes that without a publicly available framework the following
issues are of concern:
the extent to which government initiatives are evidence based and accord
to world's best practice;
the potential for misunderstanding about the range of measures that
governments are committed to implementing;
a misalignment of programs in similar locations;
slow implementation of initiatives; and
an inadequate understanding of the overall amount of funding being
provided to Indigenous communities.
Nevertheless, in its continued meetings with state and territory
officials, the committee notes that the COAG Closing the Gap initiative is
driving much of the work of the Commonwealth, respective jurisdictions and at
the community level. The committee notes the positive response from and
commitment by all levels of government to implement the COAG initiative and the
focus on closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.
The committee has also noted a change in the levels of transparency of
the COAG initiative. For example, the public release of the Coordinator General
for Remote Indigenous Services' Six Monthly Report
and COAG's public response to the report
have been positive improvements.
This chapter outlines key activities over the past six months. It also
outlines areas that the committee will explore in its final report.
Closing the Gap Policy
On 2 October 2008 COAG agreed to a $4.6 billion national investment in
six targets areas to reduce Indigenous disadvantage as part of the Closing the
The COAG targets are to:
close the gap in life expectancy within a generation;
halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five
provide early childhood education access for all Indigenous four year
olds in remote communities by 2013;
halve the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy
halve the gap in Year 12 or equivalent attainment for Indigenous 20–24
year olds by 2020; and
halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non–Indigenous
Australians by 2018.
Under the COAG Remote Indigenous Service Delivery Agreement, the Australian,
state and territory governments agreed to improve access to services to meet
the above six targets in 29 priority communities. These communities were
selected to 'provide the scope for innovative approaches to be trialled and for
what works to be replicated in other locations.'
Progress in Closing the Gap
On 11 February 2010, the Prime Minister delivered a Statement to the
House of Representatives on the Government's progress in 'Closing the Gap' on
Indigenous disadvantage. The Prime Minister indicated that there has been 'a slow
path to change' but there is action across all levels of government.
The Prime Minister also noted that there were some signs of improvement
life expectancy; 
child mortality; 
(c) year twelve attainment;
the employment gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians. 
The Prime Minister's report notes that there are mixed results for early
childhood education and a significant gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous
student literacy and numeracy levels.
The Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services' Six Monthly Report
also notes that while there is evidence of some results so far, progress has
While progress is being made, the expectations created by the
Apology and the November 2008 COAG reform are very high.
One year after COAG's commitment to critical new investments
in education, health and housing, there is some evidence of the substantial
benefits flowing through to individual communities, but people are impatient
for more. In areas where the agreed implementation lead times are longer,
Commonwealth, State and Territory departments advise that significant planning
is occurring in preparation for the roll out of investments. However, in some
cases, agencies are unable to show how much and where these new resources will
The committee is concerned by the Coordinator General for Remote
Indigenous Services's findings that in some cases, agencies are unable to show
how much and where new program resources are likely to be provided.
The committee considers that this demonstrates the lack of understanding of
decisions by employees who are responsible for program implementation. This
comment also reiterated the committee's view that there needs to be an
overarching framework for Indigenous Affairs in Australia.
The committee's last reports outlined that governments and communities
were conducting significant project planning and preparation in late 2008 and
throughout 2009 for initiatives that will be implemented in regional and remote
Australian communities (for example, housing and health initiatives). The
committee considers that tangible outcomes on the ground in regional and remote
Indigenous communities must occur in 2010 given the amount of effort
that has been placed into program development and planning.
Accordingly, the committee will outline overall progress on the COAG Closing
the Gap initiative in its final report and provide advice on whether or not Commonwealth,
state and territory governments are meeting their targets and achieving what
they set out to undertake.
Baseline Data to Support the Closing the Gap Initiative
The Prime Minister recently reiterated a continued concern that the
committee has previously highlighted about the lack of comprehensive data and
the impact that this has had on tracking progress and achieving the six COAG
The report I table today...demonstrates the challenges of
accurate data –to track our progress to closing the gap – and thereby meet our
Indeed, the committee's very first recommendation in its second report
concerned the lack of available data to enable governments to monitor the
impact its policies are having on the ground. The committee outlined the need
for a concerted effort to improve the quality and scope of existing data
collections on regional and remote Indigenous communities.
Almost one year later, the committee considers that there is still a
lack of baseline data in many areas as evidenced by the Prime Minister's
Closing the Gap Report. For example: there is no data to accurately measure
child mortality; early childhood education rates are based on 2008 figures; and
Indigenous employment rates are based on data taken from between 2002 and 2008.
The committee reiterates its concern that there needs to be a concerted
effort to improve the quality and scope of existing data collections on
regional and remote Indigenous communities if governments are to accurately
measure the tangible improvements that are being made across the nation.
The committee notes that the COAG Reform Council will develop a National
Indigenous Reform Agreement: Baseline performance report for 2008–09 for
publication in June 2010.
The report is anticipated to provide a baseline assessment against the six
targets for the COAG Closing the Gap initiative. The committee hopes that this
report will provide baseline data against which to measure future COAG programs
in conjunction with the work of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services.
Closing the Gap Clearinghouse
The committee had also hoped that the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, which
was announced in the 2009–10 Budget, would provide a cumulative evidence base to
monitor progress on program implementation, identify gaps and help to
coordinate research/evaluation. In its last report, the committee committed to
following up with the Australian Government on the utilisation of information
provided by the Clearinghouse.
The Clearinghouse website was launched on 31 October 2009. The
website currently provides:
(a) A general collection of reports relevant to the COAG building blocks;
A smaller quality assessed collection of research and evaluations with
assessments of the evidence;
(c) A register of research and evaluations conducted across Australia (in
progress or conducted in the past three years); and
A helpdesk, e–newsletters, news features and calendar of events.
Through the committee's use of the website, it has found that for many
topics, the most relevant and up to date information is not always available.
This is despite the fact that reports, data and statistics are on other
government, university and community sector agency websites.
The committee therefore considers that there should be further efforts
by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to ensure that the Clearinghouse
is kept up to date with accurate information and research papers. All
respective stakeholders who produce relevant information, statistics and
reports should also be encouraged to be proactive in providing information to
the AIHW to assist in the development of the Clearinghouse. This will enable
policy makers to use the website to develop evidence based policy and fully
utilise the $2.5 million
that the Australian Government has committed to implement this project.
The committee further considers that the website should include
information on the evaluation of programs at all levels of government so that policy
makers can have quick access to lessons learned during other program rollouts
so the same mistakes are not repeated. The committee has not had the benefit of
evidence from the AIHW but will seek to report further on the Clearinghouse in
its next report.
The committee recommends that all Australian Government and
state/territory agencies, provide the Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare with reports and publications as they are published, as well as statistics
on an annual basis, to ensure that the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is a relevant
evidence base for policy makers.
COAG's 7 December 2009 Meeting
COAG met on 7 December 2009 and considered two Indigenous related issues:
food security in remote Indigenous communities; and
A report from the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services.
At its meeting on 2 July 2009, COAG requested the development of a
national strategy to address food security in remote Indigenous communities. At their 7 December 2009 meeting,
COAG agreed to a new National Strategy for Food Security in Remote Indigenous
The Strategy outlines five actions to increase the consumption of
healthy foods and reduce the diet–related burden of disease for
Indigenous people in remote Australia and help close the gap in Indigenous
developing National Standards for stores and takeaways servicing remote
Indigenous communities in the areas of retail management, financial management,
governance, infrastructure, food and nutrition policy, food preparation and
developing options for a National Quality Improvement Scheme, for
consideration by COAG in mid–2010;
encouraging stores incorporated under State and Territory Associations
Incorporations laws to incorporate under the Corporations (Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006;
developing a National Healthy Eating Action Plan for remote Indigenous
communities for consideration by COAG by mid–2010; and
developing a National Workforce Action Plan to improve food security
through fostering an appropriately resourced, trained and supported workforce
for consideration by COAG also in mid–2010.
COAG agreed to pilot this Strategy in up to ten remote Indigenous
communities. The communities have not yet been announced.
The committee is pleased to see a commitment to develop a national
response to food security in remote Indigenous communities. The committee
continues to hear evidence about the severe lack of high quality, regular,
reliable and affordable food in remote Indigenous communities.
The committee heard that the cost of a basket of staple foods varies
considerably with other similar stores in the same settings. Food prices can be
up to 18 per cent higher in some stores with comparable situations.
The committee's most recent visit to Queensland demonstrates that prices
remain prohibitively high. Witnesses indicated that the price of an avocado is often
and petrol is $2.09 per litre.
One local council member in Weipa said it was almost impossible to live:
It is virtually impossible to be able to provide the
requirements of a family of that size on the same money that you are getting if
you are in, say, Sydney with all the shopping options you have available to
you. That translates across to petrol, rents, electricity—everything is
expensive up here.
Further, in the Torres Strait, the high cost of goods can be as much as
$150 per person per week for basic staples. Fruit and vegetables are also often
limited in supply and sell out quickly.
In its submission to the committee, Diabetes Australia was concerned at
the disproportionately large number of Indigenous Australians suffering from
diabetes and chronic disease in regional and remote Australia due to the lack
of nutritious food:
Increased cost and limited availability of health food
choices such as lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains make it
very difficult to make healthy dietary choices...energy dense processed foods high
in saturated fat, sugar and salt are more readily available for a cheaper
The National Rural Health Alliance was also concerned about the lack of quality
food, particularly for pregnant women:
There are currently serious deficiencies relating to the
supply of fresh food in some remote areas. It is fundamental to human rights
and health that all pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, babies and children
in rural and (particularly) remote areas have access to adequate affordable
The committee is of the view that work being put into the COAG National
Strategy for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities should place a high
value on practical solutions that make a difference on food price, quality and
availability in Indigenous communities.
The committee notes the work of the House of Representatives Standing
Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs' inquiry into Remote
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Community Stores.
This inquiry made 32 recommendations about the situation in remote Indigenous
communities. This committee considers that the House of Representatives inquiry
report should be fully utilised in the COAG work to develop a National Strategy
for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities.
The committee also heard evidence from Professor Hurriyet Babacan from
the Cairns Institute who told the committee about the need to look at
agriculture to not only support economic development but provide for a
sustainable diversified food supply:
Agriculture has been declining and people are looking at
whether we can diversify the agricultural base. Mareeba had a small and run–down
TAFE. The state government, the community cabinet, were up here about three
weeks ago. They are investing some $8 million into an agricultural college to
look at growing alternative crops in this area and developing the skills to
develop marketing niches—sometimes the crops can be grown, but marketing
involves a whole set of skills. So I think there are some opportunities for
Aboriginal people to tap into that. They are often overlooked.
The committee considers that it is important for a food strategy to look
to self sustaining small scale agriculture, permaculture or market gardening.
The committee understands that this may not be practical in all regional or
remote communities due to the poor condition of the soil and the level of
rainfall. Nevertheless, the committee considers that there should be innovative
solutions canvassed in the strategy to promote a source of nutritious food in
regional and remote Indigenous communities.
The committee recommends that the COAG work on the National
Strategy for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities include an analysis
of alternative agriculture to improve the affordability, quality and
availability of fresh fruit and vegetables in regional and remote Indigenous
Coordinator General for Remote
First Six Monthly Report
The 7 December 2009 COAG meeting considered the Coordinator General for
Remote Indigenous Services first Six Monthly Report.
The first Six Monthly Report outlines a baseline description of services in
each of the 29 regional and remote Indigenous communities where COAG is focusing
their initial efforts. In particular, the report outlines comparative service
tables for each community. As outlined above, the committee has been concerned
at the lack of baseline data on the COAG Closing the Gap initiative for some
The committee considers that the Coordinator General's first Six Monthly
Report provides a clear benchmark and baseline against which to measure future developments
and improvements. The committee considers that the first Six Monthly Report
provides clear indicators about which services are and which are not provided in
each of the different communities. This sort of reporting is conducive to
assessing progress on the ground.
The committee is of the view that this type of information should be
available for all regional and remote Indigenous communities. Such a report
would be extremely beneficial in comparing all communities. It would inform
budget prioritisation as well as allocation of programs and services. It would
also allow for governments and independent reviewers to ascertain the positive
impact that additional funding has on service and infrastructure delivery on
the ground. It would further enable more adequate evaluation of programs and
The committee acknowledges that there would be additional costs
associated with producing such a report in its initial stages. Nevertheless,
following a review of the Coordinator General's first Six Monthly Report, the
committee is of the view that this work would be extremely valuable in
providing a benchmark to judge future performance.
The committee understands only 149 discrete regional and remote
Indigenous communities have over 200 residents.
The committee therefore recommends expanding the remit of the Coordinator
General to all of these communities. If expansion of the Coordinator General's
mandate to all of these communities proves difficult, the committee considers
that FaHCSIA should further analyse ways to increase baseline data across a
range of regional and remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
The committee considers that a report on these communities would likely
result in significant financial savings from better directed and targeted
programs. The committee also notes that some states and territories as well as
local government authorities already compile data on regional and remote
Indigenous services that should be utilised in the development of such a report.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government expand
the remit of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services' reporting
mandate for basic service and infrastructure in all regional and remote
Indigenous communities with over 200 residents. The committee considers that
the Coordinator General should be afforded additional resources to undertake such
an expanded reporting role.
The committee notes that COAG has published a response outlining actions
to address the issues raised in the Coordinator General's Six Monthly Report.
The committee is pleased that governments have made this response public. The
committee is also pleased with the swift action that governments have committed
to undertake to respond to the report.
The committee understands that the Coordinator General's Six Monthly Report
will also be utilised by all governments and local communities to develop a community
based local implementation plan. As the Coordinator General said at the 12 February
2010 Senate Estimates Hearings:
Each local implementation plan will...draw upon my report,
community feedback, and it will have a comprehensive action plan ... to address
health, education, housing etc.
The committee supports the development of practical implementation plans
in each of the 29 Remote Service Delivery communities to respond to the
Coordinator General's Report and other local priorities. The committee also
notes that by the time of the next Coordinator General's Report, all local implementation
plans should be finalised.
The committee is encouraged by the planned consultation with local
communities to develop the local implementation plans including the dedication
of a liaison officer to assist communities with their plans.
The committee also encourages the public release of local implementation plans.
The committee continues to hear evidence from communities that they were not
consulted on different project. This was recently confirmed in the committee's
visit to Queensland. Ensuring that consultation plans are made public prior to
consultation commencing ensures communities that consultation is best practice.
The committee notes that many of the targeted 29 remote Indigenous
communities already have existing community development plans, action plans or
local strategic priorities. The committee emphasises the need for any new
implementation plan to:
take into account existing community plans and priorities;
acknowledge existing community governance arrangements;
(iii) undertake appropriate consultation with the community, state, territory
and local governments, non government and community organisations; and
have the ability to be implemented without excessive bureaucracy.
The committee looks forward to hearing the progress and outcomes of
consultation with Indigenous communities. The committee will follow up on
progress with the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services in its
The committee notes the consultation being undertaken in
developing local implementation plans but considers that as a matter of
practice, consultation plans which are not readily accessible to the public
should be made public prior to consultation being undertaken.
Council of Australian Governments 19 and 20 April 2010 Meeting
At its meeting of 19 and 20 April 2010, COAG considered a range of
issues relating to health. At this meeting, COAG noted:
...the progress made on Indigenous health issues since the
2008 National Healthcare Agreement. The reforms agreed today aim to
contribute to the improvement of health outcomes for Indigenous Australians
through greater integration between hospital, general practice and primary
health care services; governance structures focused at the local level; and public
hospital funding mechanisms that recognise the needs of regional and remote
At this meeting, COAG also noted the Working Group on Indigenous
Reform’s progress status report addressing the recommendations of the 4
December 2009 report of the Coordinator–General for Remote Indigenous
As noted above, the committee is pleased that COAG has committed to
develop responses to the Coordinator General's first Six Monthly Report, including
the following agreed or completed key actions at the national level:
articulation of the role of local government in the National Partnership
Agreement on Remote Service Delivery;
local implementation plans to be agreed by all three levels of
nomination of a liaison officer in each priority location to streamline
coordination with Regional Operations Centres and assist in developing local
more visible and responsive policing in the Remote Service Delivery
communities, including more regular reporting;
improvements to Centrelink transactional and case management services in
the Remote Service Delivery communities;
more flexible funding approaches which aggregate departmental funding
into a master contract with each of the Remote Service Delivery communities;
support for leadership and governance training across the Remote Service
Delivery communities as well as training for government personnel working with
the development of a paper for COAG on the options for more effective
planning and streamlining of infrastructure investment in Remote Service
Delivery communities. 
COAG also agreed to amend the National Partnership on Remote Service
Delivery to recognise the important role local government or other
municipal service providers have in ensuring the effective delivery of the
Partnership in each priority community, with the detail of these service
provider commitments to be captured in a local implementation plan for
each priority community.
Further analysis of this issue is discussed below.
Progress with Indigenous Housing, Education,
Health and Employment/Enterprise Targets
Since the committee's last report, there has been progress on a range of
initiatives. Key issues of interest to the committee's terms of reference are
Progress with the National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing
On 30 November 2008 COAG committed to $1.94 billion in new funding over
ten years ($834.6 million over five years) to address overcrowding,
homelessness, poor housing conditions and the severe housing shortage in remote
The National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing commenced operation on 1
Delays with the National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing
Throughout 2009, there was much confusion about the National Partnership
Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Strategic Indigenous Housing and
Infrastructure Program. The Prime Minister acknowledged the confusion of these
programs in his Closing the Gap Statement:
This is why, when evidence of unacceptable delays in our
major Indigenous housing program in the Northern Territory last year, the
Government took unprecedented action to get the program on track.
Following media and public criticism of the project, the Australian
Government established an Office for Remote Indigenous Housing in the
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Improvements to the Partnership
The Australian Government also started the process of placing senior
officials into each of the state capital cities or in some cases, into state housing
departments to 'make sure that we see an improvement in delivery of remote
On 7 December 2009, COAG agreed to the renegotiation of the National
Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing. The Australian Government indicated
that the following improvements would be made:
The renegotiation will enable a more competitive process for
allocation of funding by the Commonwealth for capital works and provide strong
incentives for the States and the Northern Territory to progress the
construction of new housing, repairs and maintenance in remote Indigenous
communities over the remaining eight years of this National Partnership...
The Commonwealth has worked in good faith to agree
implementation plans and capital works plans with each jurisdiction. Work that
has already been agreed for this financial year will continue under current
COAG noted that the Prime Minister has written to Premier's
and the Chief Ministers outlining in detail the terms of the negotiation.
Negotiations on the revised agreement will begin as a matter
of priority, with a view to the revised agreement coming into effect from 1
The Australian Government has committed $120 million in 2009–10
to build 320 new dwellings and to significantly upgrade 587 dwellings.
FaHCSIA indicated in the 12 February 2010 Senate Estimates Hearings
that 15 new dwellings had been completed; 154 houses were underway; 240 refurbishments
were either underway or completed.
The committee notes the revised arrangements for the National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. Nevertheless, the committee
remains concerned with the slow pace of government action in building new,
upgraded or renovated houses. This is especially concerning given the evidence
that the committee heard in Queensland (Chapter 3 refers) that outlines
continued slow progress in rolling out housing that has been agreed to by
either Commonwealth or state/territory governments.
The committee therefore thinks that the Commonwealth should immediately
publish its progress in providing Indigenous housing in regional and remote
Indigenous communities and that this information be updated on a monthly basis
so that the committee and other concerned members of the public can track
The committee has not heard evidence that indicates appropriate
consultation has been undertaken with communities about the level of local
employment that projects will create as part of the housing initiative. The committee
is concerned about the level of information that communities are provided
during implementation of initiatives. The committee continues to hear anecdotal
evidence from communities about the lack of consultation with councils about
housing programs. For example, the committee heard frustration from communities
in its recent trip to Weipa and Bamaga, (Chapter 3 refers). This will be an
area for further investigation by the committee.
The committee recommends that on a monthly basis the Australian
Government publish the number and location of new, rebuilt or refurbished homes
completed under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing
The committee also recommends that the Coordinator General for
Remote Indigenous Services conduct a detailed analysis of the National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing in his next six monthly
Strategic Indigenous Housing and
The Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) is a
$672 million coordinated Indigenous housing agreement between the Australian
and Northern Territory Governments across 73 remote Indigenous communities in
the Northern Territory. The program will deliver:
(a) 750 new houses;
230 rebuilds of existing houses; and
This project forms part of the overall COAG funding under the National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.
Three construction company consortia known as 'Alliances' were engaged to
deliver the program. A target of 20 per cent has been set for Indigenous
employment across the program.
The Government acknowledges that there has been slow progress with the implementation
of SIHIP and accordingly on 24 July 2009, the Minister for Families, Housing,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Chief Minister of the
Northern Territory commissioned a review to assess how to improve SIHIP.
The review considered criticisms that the program:
has been slow to deliver housing;
the governance is overly bureaucratic; and
the overall cost is too high.
The review found that the overall project was sound, but that it needed
to be substantially overhauled in order to meet proposed targets:
The overall program design is sound. While certain high level
aspects of the program must be addressed these have been identified early
enough to ensure the program meets its objectives within the original
The review provided six recommendations to optimise delivery of housing
under the SIHIP program:
stronger leadership in the delivery of the program by the Australian
the Australian Government take on a leadership role in community
engagement in conjunction with the Northern Territory Government;
further analysis of lessons learnt from the first round of the Package
Development Report be implemented for future development;
targets and timelines be made public; and
governments direct appropriate resources to: transitioning Indigenous
employees under SIHIP into ongoing employment and effective property and
On 31 August 2009, The Australian and Northern Territory Governments
accepted all the findings and recommendations of the review.
The review also raised issues which have implications for the overall National
Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing.
FaHCSIA provided a progress update on SIHIP at the 12 February 2010 Senate
Dr Harmer—Because of the initially poor performance of SIHIP
and Minister Macklin’s concern about the performance of states and territories,
she proposed a renegotiation of the national partnership to put more
restrictions on the states and territories in terms of being accountable for
progress. I will let Ms Cattermole explain this, but we have undertaken those
negotiations. We initially thought it was going to be quite difficult, given
that the agreement had only been signed in the relatively recent past.
However, with a great deal of work by Ms Cattermole and her
people, we have been very successful in carrying out Minister Macklin’s
instructions. I will let the officers update you as to where we are at.
Ms Cattermole—The National Partnership Agreement on Remote
Indigenous Housing, as you know, sits across all of the jurisdictions and the
SIHIP component is now subsumed into that as one part. As Dr Harmer said, there
was a decision taken at COAG last year to renegotiate the national partnership
and that has been a very positive and relatively speedy process and that has
recently been agreed. The Prime Minister has written to first ministers this
week seeking their final agreement to that renegotiation. What it does is focus
more on a strong performance focus for jurisdictions around ensuring that they
deliver the capital works activity on time and within the budgets that have
been agreed across the national partnership.
The SIHIP program target aims for 150 new houses to be completed; 1000
rebuilds and refurbishments and a minimum of 20 per cent Indigenous employment
on site workforces by 31 December 2010.
As at 1 February 2010, FaHCSIA advises that 2 new houses have been
completed with 54 underway; 70 rebuilds and refurbishments have been completed
with 80 underway and achievement of 35 per cent Indigenous employment on site
Post Review Assessment of SIHIP
On 10 March 2010, the Australian Government released a Post Review
Assessment of SIHIP.
The Post Review Assessment outlines the progress of SIHIP from August 2009 to
March 2010. The overarching finding of the Post Review Assessment is as follows:
Based on available documentation, data and consultation with
stakeholders, the PRA finds that despite a lag in achievement of construction
targets up to February 2010, the changes put in place as a result of the Review
are geared to achieving SIHIP's key targets by 2013, with the bulk of the
outputs expected to be delivered over the next two years.
The committee notes the review found improvements in a range of areas
over the past six months, including:
(a) improvement of program managers in delivery;
stronger communication between government, the Alliance Partners and
improvements in policy guidelines and management systems; and
strong Indigenous employment outcomes. 
The committee is concerned at the Post Review Assessment's conclusion that
the overall condition of housing following completion of renovations will
The budget of $75,000 per dwelling is based on this premise
and is generally insufficient for a comprehensive refurbishment. In many cases,
these works alone will be insufficient for public housing occupancy standards
to be achieved and maintained as a foundation for "normalising"
social housing delivery. Public housing occupancy standards are effectively a
pre–requisite to being able to collect adequate rent revenues to sustain
repairs, maintenance and effective tenancy management in remote communities.
This issue is recognised by program managers and ways of addressing it are
being considered, but at the time of the PRA there is insufficient evidence
that SIHIP functional assessments and other processes to provide repairs and
maintenance can be integrated seamlessly or cost effectively.
The committee notes that on 17 March 2010, the Minister for Families,
Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs announced a new independent,
expert quality assurance team to inspect and assess new houses and
refurbishments delivered under SIHIP in the Northern Territory. The Minister
The new team will make sure all work is completed to
appropriate standards, and will operate in addition to existing checks already
regularly made over the course of SIHIP construction and refurbishments.
The Minister also noted that the 'Australian Government will continue to
take the necessary steps to drive continuing improvements in the delivery of
Indigenous housing programs.'
The Minister further noted that the following additional steps
will be undertaken to improve the SIHIP project:
employment of an additional 20 asset management officers and tenancy
officers to operate in remote communities; and
additional resources to assess the existing condition of houses and
improve baseline data to accurately measure improvements achieved through
The committee notes the Australian Government's efforts to improve the
SIHIP initiative but remains concerned about the quality, workmanship, safety
and reliability of the housing, renovation and other construction being
undertaken under the program.
The committee will also follow up in its next report with information
about how the 20 Asset Management Officers will contribute to the overall
functional rollout of the SIHIP program in the Northern Territory.
Role of the Private Sector in
The committee is further concerned with the anecdotal reports from some
communities that suggest the private sector is charging excessive fees for
government funded housing projects. The committee will seek to follow up on
these reports with FaHCSIA in its next report.
Further Deliberations on Housing
There are a range of concerns about government housing programs that
have been raised with the committee in public reports and in evidence from
regional and remote Indigenous communities.
During this reporting period, the committee has not had sufficient time
to hear evidence from the Australian Government and, in the case of SIHIP, the
Northern Territory Government.
The committee intends to hear evidence from the Australian Government and
Northern Territory officials to consider these issues in further detail. The
committee will then look to provide further analysis in the committee's final
report. Among other issues, the committee will look to analyse:
the overall progress of the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous
Housing, including SIHIP;
the outcomes of the SIHIP Post Review Assessment;
the overall quality of new, rebuilt or refurbished homes under the
National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing;
whether or not SIHIP meets public housing occupancy standards;
the role of the Asset Management Officers under SIHIP; and
the evaluation mechanisms for private sector construction companies.
Under the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing, the
Australian Government as well as state and territory governments have agreed to
work towards clearer roles, responsibilities and funding for municipal services.
They have also agreed to the ongoing maintenance of infrastructure and
essential services in remote Indigenous communities. New arrangements will be
in place from 1 July 2012.
The committee noted in its last report that it was concerned that the
2012 implementation date 'may mean that no
progress is made in the next two years. Given the poor condition of municipal
services that the committee encountered
in the Kimberley, the committee considered this to be an urgent priority. 'The
committee retains this concern. 
The committee is advised that under the National Partnership on Remote
Service Delivery, it was agreed that a national audit of municipal and
essential services would be undertaken to assess the level of outstanding need
for these services in remote Indigenous communities.
The committee is pleased that this audit is taking place, given its
findings in its last report about the lack of understanding about who was
responsible to provide municipal services in Western Australia.
However, the committee will be concerned if this audit does not occur quickly.
The committee also hopes that local implementation plans that are now meant to
be agreed by all three levels of government
ensure that this issue is adequately addressed and appropriate funding
In 2009, there were approximately 155 500 Indigenous full time students
which is 4.5% of total students in Australian schools.
The Prime Minister's Closing the Gap Statement indicated that there still remains
clear educational gaps, particularly in childhood education as well as literacy
and numeracy levels.
For example, in 2008, 63.4 per cent of Indigenous students compared with 92.6
per cent of non–Indigenous students were at or above the national
minimum standard for Year 5 reading, a 29.2 per cent gap.
National Partnership on Indigenous
Early Childhood Development
At its July 2008 meeting, COAG agreed to a National Partnership on
Indigenous Early Childhood Development.
This Partnership commits $564.6 million over six years from 1 January 2009.
This includes the development of 35 children and family centres to provide
early learning, child care and parent and family support services to Indigenous
children and families.
Appearing at the 12 February 2010 Senate Estimates Hearings, the
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations outlined the most
recent development in the National Partnership:
... we will be providing funding in 35 or thereabouts locations
and working with the states and territories to roll out those children and family
centres, which in many cases will have a preschool component.
Further, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
considers that they are on track in the implementation of the Partnership:
We think they are on track and that there is time to achieve
the objectives of the national partnership. Obviously, the whole process of
community consultation, particularly when you are talking about Indigenous
communities and the design of services that will be, if you will, purpose–built
and designed for the particular circumstances of a given community, is
absolutely critical to get that to happen. Our sense is that, overall, the
exercise is on track.
The committee notes the announcement of some of the 35 Children and
Family Centres but would like to see priority delivery of all 35 Children and
The committee heard a range of evidence in its recent visit to Queensland that
reaffirms the committee's long–held view about the fundamental importance of
early childhood development and learning (outlined in Chapter 3). The committee
therefore hopes that the government places a high priority on rolling out the
35 Children and Family Centres to regional and remote communities in need of
additional services. The committee will follow up on implementation in its next
Indigenous Education Action Plan
In its third report, the committee agreed to provide an update on the
progress of the Indigenous Education Action Plan.
At their meeting in July 2009, COAG agreed to the development of an Indigenous
Education Action Plan by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood
Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).
In December 2009, MCEECDYA called for submissions on a draft national Indigenous
Education Action Plan 2010–2014. In doing so, MCEECDYA provided a public
draft for comment.
The Indigenous Education Action Plan outlines how MCEECDYA will work to
achieve the COAG Closing the Gap targets. The Plan provides for activities that
will be undertaken at the national, state and local level to close the gap
between the educational outcomes of Indigenous and non–Indigenous
An initial draft of the plan was circulated to Indigenous education
consultative bodies and a number of leading Indigenous educators for
preliminary comment prior to public release. The
plan will be finalised by mid 2010.
The plan focuses on six areas:
readiness for school;
engagement and connections;
literacy and numeracy;
leadership, quality teaching and workforce development; and
pathways to real post school options.
The plan provides aggregated national targets and goals based on the Closing
the Gap priorities. It then outlines the actions that will be undertaken by
each state and territory government to reduce the gap in Indigenous education
The committee is pleased to see a strong focus on improving evaluation
and data of schools performance in the plan. In particular, the commitment to
the development of an annual report outlining progress against the plan; an in–depth
analysis of cohorts of Indigenous students; improvements to national education
data sets and an evaluation of the Indigenous Education Action Plan in 2013 is commendable.
The plan indicates that 'engagement with Indigenous parents, students
and communities is central to the design and delivery of programs and services'.
Given the committee's consistent evidence about the key role of parents and the
need to strongly promote learning at home, the committee is pleased with the
focus on parents and learning. The committee's most recent evidence on the
value of parents involvement in children's education in Queensland is discussed
in Chapter 3.
The committee is also pleased to see a commitment to consult closely
with the Indigenous Education Consultative Body in order for the plan to remain
relevant and flexible to the changing needs of Indigenous students.
Australian Government's Sporting
On 11 February 2010, the Australian Government announced an expansion of
its Sporting Chance Program to support Indigenous students' engagement with
The Sporting Chance Program uses sport and recreation as a hook to better
engage Indigenous boys and girls in their schooling to improve educational and
The Government indicates that there were 42 Sporting Chance projects in
2009 including 37 school–based sports academies and five engagement
strategies, supporting about 9 000 students. In 2010 an additional 17 sports
academies will commence across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and
Victoria, supporting about 1000 students, which will bring the total supported
under the program to some 10 000.
The committee notes the introduction of the program and the impact for
Indigenous students in remote and regional Australia and is pleased to note the
anticipated increase in school attendance given these programs. The committee is
also of the opinion that similar programs should be provided for students who have
other interests. For example, a suggestion was made in Bamaga, that a similar
program be introduced for students who are interested in the arts:
We have got to realise that some kids do not like to play
sports, so we might work in with our director of community services, who is
actually working with me right now in trying to develop the sports program, to
identify some kids who are maybe interested in arts.
The committee would like to see additional consideration given to
programs for children in other extra curricular activities such as the arts.
Noting the success of the Sporting Chance Program, the committee
recommends that the Australian Government investigate programs for other extra curricular
activities such as a program for students interested in the arts.
National Indigenous Knowledge Centre
On 19 and 20 April 2008, the Australian Government convened a 2020
summit at Parliament House in Canberra. The summit brought together 1000
participants from across the nation and generated more than 900 ideas.
In the Australian Government's response to the 2020 summit which was released
on 22 April 2009, one of the nine commitments was the first steps towards an
Indigenous Cultural Education and Knowledge Centre.
On 4 February 2010, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs announced that consultations had begun for the
feasibility study into a National Indigenous Knowledge Centre.
The committee has heard a range of evidence over the course of its
inquiry about the need to respect, support and understand Indigenous culture as
the oldest continuing culture in human history. For example, General Dave Chalmers, the
former head of the Northern Territory Emergency Response noted the importance
of culture and development.
The Kimberly Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre indicated the need for
culture to be part of Commonwealth, state and territory planning; that
governments need to take into account culture in providing funding and that
governments should 'commit to levels of funding that are commensurate with
genuine recognition that culture needs to be placed at the centre of the COAG
planning processes and is vitally important for intrinsic and extrinsic reasons'.
In their submission, the Western Australian Indigenous Traditional
Culture and Healing Project also indicated a strong desire to 'have access to
their culture and its essential values whether they live permanently or are
temporarily residing in the city or in the regional areas'.
They also demonstrated the importance of technology as a way to link up people
to their cultural heritage:
put this model to you. What we want is an established centre in Perth which
will give regeneration and a buzz inside the people who attend. It will become
like a watering hole where they get some education and they get tools to help
themselves when they are back in their communities—and it will help the
communities. We do not only want to establish that centre. Being an RTO and
doing distance learning is one of our specialties, so we have the
infrastructure in place for distance learning and we have state–of–the–art
technology. We can have 10 webcams come in at once and we can have a number of
people online. That is a facility that we already have. We can do distance
learning in other countries as we are well established.
The committee notes that the National Indigenous Knowledge Centre
proposal is subject to further consultation. The committee considers that given
the evidence provided by the West Australian Indigenous Traditional Culture and
Healing Project that is currently undertaking a similar project in Western
Australia, it is important for the National Indigenous Knowledge Centre to be
able to provide communication links between Indigenous Australians and the
Centre. The committee sees a key role for technology based solutions to support
the understanding of, and respect for, Indigenous cultures.
The committee will follow the progress of the National Indigenous
Knowledge Centre proposal in its next report.
Employment and Enterprise Opportunities
Australia's 'tyranny of distance' impacts most on regional and remote Indigenous
communities and has a distinct impact on employment prospects. As outlined in
the committee's first report, employment is one of the best ways to drive
economic development and make a difference to some of the entrenched social
problems in regional and remote Indigenous communities.
Nevertheless, the Prime Minister's 2010 Closing the Gap Report indicates
progress in reducing the Indigenous unemployment rate is slow. Currently, 35.5
per cent of the Indigenous workforce age population is not in the labour force.
Further the levels of diversification of employment for Indigenous people
living in remote and regional Australia are far less diverse than with urban
Changing this situation will require developing creative models for
community development and a strong commitment by governments, business and the
community in each and every Indigenous community.
The committee recognises that there is no 'one size fits all' solution
to enhance Indigenous employment opportunities. Nevertheless, throughout the communities
that the committee has visited in Queensland, Western Australia, South
Australia and the Northern Territory, those communities that are most
successful have developed a range of different pathways from basic education
and specific training to employment.
COAG National Partnership Agreement
for Indigenous Economic Participation
COAG's National Partnership Agreement for Indigenous Economic
Participation was signed in February 2009. This National Partnership is
designed to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non–Indigenous
Australians by 2018.
The National Partnership involves complementary investment and effort by
the Australian Government as well as state and territory governments to
significantly improve opportunities for Indigenous people to engage in private
and public sector jobs by:
creating jobs in areas of government service delivery that have previously
relied on subsidies through the Community Development Employment Projects
increasing public sector employment to reflect Indigenous working age
population share by 2015;
building Indigenous workforce strategies into implementation plans for all
COAG reforms contributing to the closing the gap targets; and
strengthening government procurement policies to maximise Indigenous
The committee is concerned at the overall slow progress to halve the gap
in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non–Indigenous
Under COAG's Closing the Gap initiative, the Australian Government has
indicated that between 1 July 2009 and 31 January 2010 18 000 Indigenous
Australians were placed into work by Job Services Australia.
This has been underpinned by the Australian Government's funding commitment of
$750 million for the reformed Indigenous Employment Program.
Nevertheless, as the Prime Minister noted, Australia is falling short of
meeting COAG's target. A faster reduction in the gap than has been recently
achieved is required to fulfil the COAG target.
Australian Employment Covenant
The Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) is an initiative aimed at
securing 50 000 sustainable jobs for Indigenous Australians – including in
remote and regional Australia. The AEC is a three–way initiative between
Australian business; the Australian Government and Indigenous Australians. The
AEC is designed to:
Provide the leadership and the facilitation to drive the
collaborative efforts of industry, Indigenous leaders and Government in an
aspiration to secure 50,000 sustainable jobs filled by Indigenous Australians;
Ensure participating Australian employers (“AEC Employers”)
formally guarantee to provide sustainable employment for Indigenous Australians
on successful completion of pre–employment job specific training funded
by Government to the AEC Employer’s specifications. The AEC Employer guarantee
includes access to post job placement support through individual mentoring in
the work place; and
Encourage AEC Employer workplace culture and practices
directed at improving the recruitment, retention and development of Indigenous
participants. The Employment Covenant will, through a network of patrons,
ambassadors and champions at national, state and regional levels, support AEC
Employers at all levels in the nation’s economy in this drive.
The committee acknowledges that a target of 50 000 jobs in two years is
ambitious. The last report from the AEC on outcomes as at 31 January 2010
states that there are a total of 16 939 job commitments from employers, 622
Indigenous job seekers have commenced in employment and, of those 622, 88 have been in employment for more than 26 weeks.
GenerationOne is a campaign to encourage mainstream, grass roots
involvement for all Australians to contribute solutions to break the Indigenous
poverty trap in this generation. The campaign has a practical focus in
obtaining employment for Indigenous Australians. It encourages education and
training that leads to real employment outcomes.
The committee notes that the GenerationOne campaign is undertaking a
national road show which will include regional and remote Australia. The
committee is supportive of and encourages involvement in GenerationOne and the
achievement of 50 000 jobs for Indigenous Australians, particularly in regional
and remote areas.
Government Ambassador for Business
Action and Indigenous Employment Forum
The committee notes the Government's commitment of 11 February 2010 to
establish a Government Ambassador for Business Action to encourage the private
sector to play an active role in Indigenous employment as part of the $3 million
Business Action Agenda.
At this stage, the committee is unsure of the linkages between the
Ambassador and the Government's commitments under the Australian Employment
Covenant, GenerationOne and Indigenous Business Australia. The committee will
closely follow the progress of the Government Ambassador for Business Action and
provide analysis of this position in its next report.
The committee also notes that on 24 February 2010, the Government hosted
an Indigenous Employment Forum with representatives from corporate Australia to
bring government, business and partner organisations together to close the gap
on Indigenous disadvantage in economic participation. The Prime Minister
indicated that the forum was all about how we can change attitudes and how
business can get a better understating of how to attract, and importantly,
retain Indigenous workers.
The committee is supportive of any attempt to improve Indigenous
employment in Australia.
Community Development Employment
The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme commenced in
1977. As outlined in the committee's first report, the CDEP was designed to
support Indigenous Australians to achieve economic independence.
In July 2009, the Australian Government provided $202.4 million over
five years to reform the CDEP and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP). The
reforms were designed to make progress in meeting the Government’s targets of
halving the employment gap between Indigenous and non–Indigenous
Australians within a decade. The Government has indicated that the reformed
programs will provide greater linkages to universal employment services for all
Current participants in remote areas will still be able to access CDEP
wages until 30 June 2011 to support their transition to the new arrangements.
Current participants will be required to move to income support after 1 July
2009 if they take a break from CDEP for more than 2 weeks,
excluding approved leave. From 1 July 2009 all new CDEP
participants in remote locations will not be eligible to receive CDEP
wages but may instead be eligible to receive an Income Support Payment.
The committee has heard both positive and negative commentary about CDEP
since the changes to the scheme. Some have seen the changes to the scheme as positive
on the grounds that CDEP did not benefit communities and entrenched a system of
handouts. One witness commented that in some communities:
All they have ever known for the last 30 years is a
government program called CDEP
Other submissions have commented that the negative view of CDEP should
be reversed because CDEP provided for an employment pathway for those people in
regional and remote Australia without ready access to jobs:
There must be a shift in Government perception away from the
negative view of CDEP, to one where it is considered as a positive way of
providing worthwhile employment to community members in their communities. This
has not been achieved in the Government's recent review of CDEP. We believe
that part of the Government's main agenda concerning CDEP is that by
transitioning CDEP participants from CDEP wages to Centrelink benefits then
they can be Income Managed. There has been enough subterfuge around this
subject for too long.
In its recent trip to Queensland the committee heard a range of views on
CDEP. These views are outlined in Chapter 3.
For regional and remote communities, the Government's figures indicate
that since the 1 July 2009 CDEP reforms, the following results have been
the Indigenous Employment Program has placed 28 300 Indigenous people,
an increase of 18 per cent over the equivalent period in the previous year;
1236 CDEP participants have been placed in Commonwealth funded
306 participants have placed in state funded positions;
$228 million has been invested by the Commonwealth; and
90 per cent of 8 903 CDEP participants in remote areas are now enrolled
with Job Services Australia providers, who will support them for movement into
the mainstream labour market.
The committee notes alternative investment to replace CDEP programs such
as the 1 March 2010 investment of $172.4 million over three years to build the
skills of Indigenous Australians through a range of training, mentoring and
community development projects across 500 remote Indigenous communities.
The committee also notes funding provided in the 2010–11 Budget that reforms
CDEP in the communities of the Torres Strait.
The committee considers that beyond 30 June 2011, the Australian
Government will need to have a long term strategy for addressing employment and
the likely corresponding impacts on employment levels in regional and remote
communities. The committee notes that the Australian Government is currently
working on this project and notes the budget allocation for CDEP training
initiatives outlined in the 2010–11 Budget below.
Mentoring and Leadership
Throughout the committee's inquiry, there was much evidence about the
positive role that mentoring plays as a support function for Indigenous people entering
Mentoring and support provide needed advice on a whole range of issues,
the stresses and strains of a workplace or different training;
how workplace environments affect learning;
(c) emotional intelligence; and
specific subject–matter expertise.
The Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services also indicated
the strong need for leadership in communities. As he commented in the recent Senate
Unless we improve the leadership within some of these
communities, it is going to be very hard for governments to get progress. From
my point of view, it is one of the high priorities for us in early 2010 to say,
‘Get that right. Get the communities working together. Give them ownership etcetera.’
From that, you can build on getting greater success through the government’s
The committee acknowledges the work of the Government in promoting
Indigenous leadership programs. Since 2004, over 6 000 Indigenous Australians
have already participated in leadership development and as a result they have
experienced positive changes in their lives and futures.
The committee also notes the intention of the Australian Government to
promote Indigenous leadership by holding more than 50 leadership development
workshops over the next six months to foster stronger relationships with
hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.
The committee further notes the COAG response to the Coordinator General
for Remote Indigenous Services Report that commits to providing ongoing
governance and leadership training for individual communities.
National Partnership Agreement on
Remote Indigenous Public Internet Access
In its last report, the committee outlined the National Partnership
Agreement on Remote Indigenous Public Internet Access. This agreement seeks to
provide public internet access facilities in remote Indigenous communities with
limited or no public internet access; create a program for maintenance and
support of public internet access in those communities commencing in 2011–12
and offer training in computer and internet use in up to 60 remote communities
a year. 
Under this Agreement, the Commonwealth is providing $6.97 million
over four years to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania,
Western Australia and the Northern Territory to improve public internet access
and provide basic computer training.
The Australian Government expects that in 2009–10, over
45 remote communities are expected to receive public internet access
facilities and training under this initiative.
The committee considers that provision of high speed broadband internet
provides enhanced opportunities for Indigenous Australians to access government
services, advice on a range of issues such as health and education as well as
linkages to possible employment or marketing of small business ideas to local
government and should be encouraged.
The Prime Minister's Closing the Gap Report indicates some improvements in
life expectancy and infant mortality. As at 2008, the gap between Indigenous
and non Indigenous Australians life expectancy was 11.5 years for males and 9.7
years for females.
The gap for infant mortality is 103.7 infant deaths per 100 000 children
aged 0–4 years for non Indigenous and 204.8 infant deaths per 100 000
children for Indigenous Australians.
According to the National Indigenous Health Equality Council, the
Australian Indigenous infant mortality rate has been declining and the gap
between Indigenous and non–Indigenous infants has been narrowing. 'If
current trends continue, we could reduce infant mortality rates to the same
level as non–Indigenous rates by 2018'.
The Prime Minister has stated that since 2007–08, the Australian
Government has increased its annual expenditure by 57 per cent on Indigenous
specific health programs.
National Partnership Agreement on Closing
the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes
The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous
Health Outcomes was agreed on 29 November 2008. It provides $1.6 billion over
four years with the Australian Government contributing $806 million.
The Australian Government's contribution will be spent on a Chronic
Disease Package to manage the chronic diseases faced by Indigenous Australians.
Under this agreement, the Government has agreed to:
more than 133 000 additional health checks;
400 000 additional chronic disease management services for Indigenous
people with a chronic condition;
(c) support for over 50 000 Indigenous patients with a chronic disease to
better self manage their condition; and
financial assistance to improve access to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
medicines to over 70 000 Indigenous people.
In the committee's third report, an update was provided on some of the
initiatives under the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous
Health Outcomes but the committee noted that many initiatives had yet to
This section of the report outlines some of the major Australian Government announcements
since November 2009.
A focus of the Partnership Agreement is on reducing smoking rates among
Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government had previously agreed that as
smoking rates still remain alarmingly high, they require a long–term
commitment if success is to be achieved.
On 5 March 2010, the Australian Government announced 14 sites across the
country will benefit from a $10.7 million funding round to promote innovative
anti–tobacco campaigns and prevention strategies to 14 community sector
On 17 February 2010, the Australian Government announced the inaugural
National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking. 
The Government advised that the National Coordinator's role will be to:
lead and mentor the tackling smoking workforce being established under
the Federal Government’s $100 million COAG Tackling Smoking initiative to
reduce the incidence of tobacco smoking in Indigenous communities;
provide advice and insights which assist to shape policy and program
directions in Indigenous tobacco control;
(c) play a key role in evaluating the Federal Government’s $14.5 million
Indigenous Tobacco Control Initiative to ensure successful pilot programs are
translated into improved services on the ground; and
advocate the importance of, and best practice approaches to, reducing
smoking in Indigenous families, communities and workplaces.
The committee continues to hear evidence about the devastating impact of
smoking on life expectancy of Indigenous Australians:
Aboriginal deaths from smoking are 20% higher than the rest
of the community as anti–smoking messages are not targeting Indigenous communities...To
be effective anti smoking and other health messages need to be culturally
specific to Indigenous communities. 
47% of Indigenous Australians smoked, down from 51% in 2002. This is still twice the non–Indigenous
smoking rate. Unlike the non–Indigenous population, the smoking rate is
similar across all regions, age groups and males and females including during
pregnancy. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers smoke at around 3
times the rate of non–Indigenous mothers (52% compared with 16%).
In its evidence to the committee, the AIHW indicated that it was
probably too early to see the results of any preventative action on Indigenous
Senator SIEWERT—You raise the issue of smoking in your
submission. In some states, and I think nationally too now, there are some
efforts around smoking in Aboriginal communities. Are you starting to notice
any impact from those programs?
Dr Allbon—It would probably be too early at this stage. We
rely basically on the ABS’s national health survey and the NATSI, the National
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey for that information. The
national health survey is conducted every three years and the NATSI every six
years. There would be no survey vehicle that would pick that up at this stage.
Dr Al–Yaman—The other source of data that we use to
complement that is our peri–natal data collection which collects that
data annually. It can pick up smoking during pregnancy. This does not go as
long as the survey. If you look at the survey data over the last 10 years,
there has been no change in smoking among Indigenous Australians. It has been
at 50 per cent and it has not changed at all. As to the peri–natal data,
we still have not seen much change yet, but that is more recent. Collection of
data of smoking during pregnancy is more recent than that collection.
The committee acknowledges the difficulty in determining whether
government investment in Indigenous smoking initiatives is making a difference.
The committee considers that the $100 million COAG Tackling Smoking initiative
should be focused on evidence based program implementation.
Before providing further funding, the committee considers that the
lessons learned from the current $10.7 million funding round to promote
innovative anti–tobacco campaigns and prevention strategies should be
circulated to all state and territory jurisdictions.
In the medium to long term, the committee hopes that the Government will
evaluate performance of its investment against the data in the Australian
Bureau of Statistic's national health survey and the National Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander health survey. The committee considers that this is
particularly relevant given that the committee continues to hear about
competing health demands such as the incidence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder and the significant and continued abuse of alcohol and other illicit
substances in regional and remote Indigenous communities.
The committee recommends that the evaluation mechanisms that
underpin COAG's investment of the $100 million Tackling Smoking initiative be
publicly released to ensure that this funding provides a tangible difference on
the ground in communities.
Indigenous Outreach Workers
As part of the COAG work on health, the Government has funded 83 new
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers across Australia. This
forms part of the 160 positions that are being funded under a $42 million
commitment to build the capacity of the Indigenous health workforce over four
years. In turn, this forms part of the $805.5 million Indigenous Chronic
The Indigenous Outreach Worker's role will encompass the following:
Ms Powell—The Indigenous outreach workers will all be
Indigenous. They will be providing culturally specific services through a
variety of health promotion and chronic disease management programs.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers
will help increase community engagement with health services, including
increasing the uptake of Indigenous health checks and identifying Indigenous
people who would benefit from improved access to health services.
In addition, they will assist Indigenous people to access
other health services, including follow–up care, specialist services and
The committee has heard the value of having Indigenous Outreach Workers
coming to or based in communities that provide health services. In particular,
the committee notes that for some remote areas, this is a much preferred method
than having to travel to doctors or hospitals for minor ailments or advice on
different health options. For example, the Western Australia Country Health
Service highlights the value of outreach services for regional and remote
Ms Freebairn—It is not purely mental health issues. A lot of
it has been social issues that have impacted on people’s mental health. We are
a secondary mental health service, so we look after people with serious mental
illnesses, such as psychosis, major depression and, of course, when people are
actively feeling suicidal. So we have been involved in that way. We have also been
working closely with all the other services that are here—with the South West
Aboriginal Medical Service, SWAMS, and the hospital and we have been doing
outreach service in the community and seeing people there, which makes it
easier for them to access our service rather than coming to the hospital or to
the clinics. We found that to be a huge barrier to people coming to the
services in the past, but our figures are showing that we are seeing a lot more
people now within the community.
The committee notes the importance of Indigenous Outreach Workers and
the value that they can provide. The committee considers that it is important
to have adequate training and support for the Outreach Workers as well as some
level of consistency throughout Australia. The committee also considers that
Outreach Workers need to have support mechanisms to allow for continuous
improvement; an understanding of new and emerging medical issues and best
practice evidenced based treatment.
In its recent visit to Queensland, the committee heard about the
important role of Outreach Workers bringing together a range of services to
tailor health support and broader social and emotional wellbeing services for
individual clients. Further analysis of the situation in Queensland is at
The committee also considers that the Australian Government should
encourage and facilitate a professional support network for Indigenous Outreach
The committee has heard consistent information from a range of
Australian Government officers about the strong need for pre–deployment
training and post–deployment support. The committee therefore considers
that common guidance should be developed not only for Indigenous Outreach
Workers but for all Australian Government funded workers deployed in regional
and remote Indigenous communities. Workers should be provided with a toolkit
and mechanisms to cope with the substantial challenges in working with regional
and remote Indigenous communities.
As part of efforts to reduce the gap in infant mortality, on 11 February
2010 the Government committed $9.1 million over three years for ten new mothers
and babies services. The ten new services are in addition to the 43 funded
under the New Directions program to give Indigenous babies and their mothers'
better access to:
pre and post pregnancy care;
standard information about baby care;
practical advice and assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition and
monitoring of developmental milestones, immunisation status and
health checks and referrals for treatment for Indigenous children before
Throughout the course of its inquiry, the committee has heard a range of
evidence the about the need for more support for women during the first years
of a baby's life in order to reduce the infant mortality rate.
The committee was concerned to discover in its recent trip to
Queensland, that for the entire Cape York region, there was no birthing
facility and that all mothers needing to give birth were required to go to
Cairns for an extended period. This raised issues with young mothers being away
from their communities with a lack of a dedicated support network:
If you are going with a child and you have three kids at
home, English is your second language and you have no financial base, and they
lob you in Cairns with four nights paid accommodation at a hostel, then you are
on your own. You may have the kids with you or you may not. Dad cannot go to
work now—if he does—and there they are.
The committee also heard that in communities such as Cherbourg, there is
a reluctance for some women to leave communities to go to hospital early and
they then give birth in less that ideal conditions in regional and remote
It is a huge problem. The girls do not want to go to
Kingaroy, and sometimes they hang on, which really puts their babies at risk,
because they do not want to go.
The National Rural Health Alliance indicated that support for mothers
and babies should be the highest priority for government programs relating to
maternal and child health, particularly in regional and remote Australia. The
Alliance indicated that this is vital in helping to prevent many of the factors
that can cause chronic disease.
The National Rural Health Alliance further made the point that nurses
and midwives and other health professionals delivering support for mothers and
babies also need significant support in delivering the quality services that
Many of the nurses and midwives currently distributed across
rural and very remote areas, including in many Indigenous communities, do their
work in situations where there are no other health professionals. Nursing
organisations believe that the Health Equity Plan underestimates the nursing
workforce required to adequately serve Indigenous communities. Certainly,
greater support for the nursing workforce should be a central part of plans to
improve regional and remote Indigenous health.
The committee supports the national effort on early intervention in
child and maternal health and for healthy parents, including through mothers
and babies services in regional and remote Australia. This is particularly important
given the evidence that the committee gathered in Queensland on the incidence
of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which is outlined in Chapter 3.
The committee stresses the absolute importance of mothers and babies
programs as a positive response to reducing infant mortality. The committee
considers that this is even more paramount in regional and remote areas that do
not have close access to hospitals or major medical facilities that provide
support and outreach services.
Opal Fuel Initiative
The committee is convinced of the fundamental importance in providing non–sniffable
Opal fuel to target petrol sniffing in regional and remote Australia. 
The committee is supportive of any new initiatives to provide Opal fuel to
regional and remote communities that have problems with petrol sniffing. The
most serious consequences of long term brain damage and other significant
chronic disease is important to prevent.
The committee is therefore pleased to see the Government's 3 March 2010
announcement of an additional $2.3 million dollars to rollout Opal fuel in the
Goldfields region of Western Australia to help curb petrol sniffing in the
region's Indigenous communities through an Opal fuel subsidy over four years.
The committee also notes the additional funding announced in the 2010–11
Budget which is outlined in the last section of this chapter.
The committee is concerned that sniffing still remains a significant
issue. For example, in the committee's recent visit to Queensland the committee
heard evidence in Cherbourg about the number of children in the community
sniffing including one child that had recently caught alight whilst sniffing,
causing significant burns.
The committee notes that the Commonwealth Department of Health and
Ageing provides assistance with the supply of Opal fuel to any community that
requests it. The committee was concerned that a number of communities are still
not aware of this fact.
The committee intends to hear evidence from the Department of Health and
Ageing on the COAG health reforms for analysis in its final report. The
committee will also collect evidence on the progress of the initiatives
National Indigenous Representative
On 22 November 2009, the Australian Government announced support for a
national Indigenous representative body and announced that $6 million will be
provided to establish the body and $23.2 million will be provided for operation
of the body.
On 2 May 2010, the Congress was officially incorporated and work has
begun to establish the operations of the company by eight founding directors
who form a National Executive.
Members of the Council are: Mr Tom Calma, Ms Megan Davis (Co–Chair),
Mr Wesley Enoch, Ms Mary Graham, Ms Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun and Professor
Lester–Irabinna Rigney (Co–Chair). 
The committee notes the progress with this initiative and looks forward
to seeing the National Indigenous Representative Body operationalised to make a
valuable contribution to the representation of the views of Indigenous
The committee notes the progress with this initiative and looks forward
to seeing the National Indigenous Representative Body operationalised to make a
valuable contribution to the representation of the views of Indigenous
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance
On 9 March 2010, the Hon Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Housing,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs announced the establishment of a
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance.
Minister Macklin said that:
This alliance of Indigenous women and their organisations
from across the country will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
to bring forward the concerns and issues from their communities, in their own
words, with their own agendas, and their own solutions. It will be funded under
the Office for Women's National Women's Alliances program, and established by
Indigenous women, with initial support from the YWCA. So far it includes strong
women and their organisations from Adelaide to the Torres Strait, Sydney and
Melbourne to the NPY lands. In coming months it will be reaching out to
Indigenous women right across Australia for support, including other impressive
Indigenous women leaders who made applications under this program. Over the
next year we expect it will grow significantly in membership, in skills and
strength. It will be made stronger with rigorous debate and diversity in its
ranks. My colleague Minister Tanya Plibersek and I are both passionate about
giving a strong voice to Australian women, including Indigenous women. So your voice can be heard on issues
like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, on issues like the social and emotional
problems that are affecting family relationships.
The committee notes the development of the National Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance and looks forward to following the
development of this Alliance.
Criminal Justice – ‘First door right door’
In its third report, the committee indicated that it would follow up on
the development of the 'first door must be the right door' service delivery
model following a roundtable on Indigenous safety that was conducted on 6
November 2009. The committee understands that proposals are expected to be
considered at the April meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys–General,
as well as out of session by the Ministerial Council on Police and Emergency
Management – Police later this year.
The committee looks forward to hearing the outcomes from these deliberations.
Government Funding Flexibility
The committee has repeatedly heard about the difficulty with funding
arrangements across each jurisdiction. In the committee's last report, New
South Wales and Western Australia informed the committee of difficulties caused
by funding arrangements for service delivery currently put in place by
The committee's last report indicated that the following three issues were
Communities require greater flexibility in funding arrangements to allow
more efficient use of funds;
short term funding arrangements significantly limited the effective
operating duration of a project, leading to inefficiencies and a higher risk of
reporting obligations represented an excessive burden on organisations.
In the committee's most recent visit to Queensland, this issue was again
raised as a serious concern by a range of community organisations and
The evidence in Queensland indicated that excessive amounts of time were
spent in developing grant applications. Indeed one university indicated that
all they had done this year (January to April 2010) was write grant
The Queensland Police Citizens Youth Welfare Association also commented
on the inability to undertake work on the ground due to the significant
failures of the funding cycle:
If we continue the way we are going in relation to having to
have grants, our administration will increase and our operation on the ground
will decrease. We need to have central funding. People want us to continue to
deliver and change the cycle that has been involved, especially while the
alcohol management plans are in place. I know I cannot continue to write the
grants. I have just done it for the Commonwealth. We are writing all the time.
We have professional grant writers to assist us to do that. Then we have to
employ administrators to administer the grant. There has to be another way,
especially in Indigenous communities, for long–term service providers if
there is going to be longevity of more than three years.
The committee recognises the dilemma of delivering efficient use of
funding on the ground in communities whilst upholding the necessary
accountability, transparency and efficient use of government funding.
The committee again notes the report by the Cooperative Research Centre
for Aboriginal Health Services (the Overburden Report) that found Aboriginal
Controlled Community Health Service are 'funded in more complex ways, and from
more resources, than equivalent mainstream health care organisations, and that this
is a barrier to providing responsive care, and brings heavy overhead costs.'
This was confirmed in evidence from the Queensland Aboriginal and
Islander Health Council, that demonstrated the complexity of their system of
We have a list of reports to provide that are linked to
different funding. We tend to get funding from the Commonwealth government in
one lot and we may get funded for a couple of one–off projects. From
Queensland Health, we get funding from this bit, this bit, this bit, this bit
and this bit. They are trying to pool all those funds and give us one report to
do—as we now have to report to each different area; they are trying to improve
that. But at the moment, yes, we do have a list of funders as long as your arm
and a list of reports as long as your other arm. That is from our secretariat
side of it. I do not know about the health service side.
In their evidence to the committee, Boystown also commented on the
difficulty of the current funding system that is based on short term outcomes
rather than taking a long term view of community development:
The current model of short–term funding for the
provision of services is not conducive to achieving long–term outcomes,
with providers of services having to move from one short–term funding
round to another with little accountability or visibility of outcomes achieved.
Short–term funding can also include unrealistic timelines for the
delivery of projects, increasing the stress levels of both the provider of the
service and the community itself.
The committee does however note and commend the Australian Government's
announcement of 11 February 2010 to develop a flexible funding pool to support
high priority projects in 29 remote Indigenous communities.
The committee considers that this is an example of the flexibility that
government can provide local communities to accelerate development. This
funding pool was developed in response to the Coordinator–General for
Remote Indigenous Services identification of excessive funding red–tap
and the 'inability to tailor programs to local circumstances as hindering
The committee has long held the view that Indigenous communities are
best placed in determining their own priorities for funding community
infrastructure. This pool of funding responds to the specific needs of
individual communities. The committee considers that it is important to ensure
that there are high levels of community consultation prior to delivery of
services or infrastructure in regional and remote Indigenous communities.
The committee also notes the commitment by COAG to examine the use of
more flexible funding approaches which aggregate departmental funding into a
master contract with each National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service
Delivery community to:
align service delivery and provide some flexibility to modify inputs to
help achieve the Closing the Gap outcomes; and
streamline reporting and reduce red tape.
COAG agreed–in–principle to this recommendation and
provided the following justification:
Flexible funding can support a whole–of–government
approach to service delivery in Indigenous communities that is streamlined,
coordinated and community–oriented. There are a range of flexible
funding and contract reform initiatives that are already in place or are currently
being implemented. The parties will work together to further explore models for
flexible funding. The parties will also examine opportunities and options
appropriate to each jurisdiction to better align service delivery, streamline
reporting and reduce red tape, whilst maintaining accountability and quality of
services. Aggregating funding into a ‘master contract’ is an option that can be
considered as part of this process. 
The committee considers that funding of Indigenous service delivery remains
a serious and significant issue. The committee therefore considers that COAG
should place a high priority on effective resolution of funding issues both
within the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery
communities and more broadly within all government service delivery in regional
and remote Indigenous communities.
Given the evidence that the committee has received about problems
with funding models, the committee considers that COAG should expedite
implementation of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services'
recommendation to examine the use of more flexible funding approaches which
aggregate departmental funding into a master contract with each National
Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery community.
New Budget Initiatives 2010–11
On 11 May 2010, the Australian Government handed down the 2010‑11
Budget. Due to the lack of time between the announcement of the Budget on
11 May 2010 and the tabling of this report on 13 May 2010, the
committee lists the key new Indigenous related 2010–11 Budget
initiatives outlined in Budget Paper Number 2.
Home Ownership Program — transfer
of funding from the Home Ownership on Indigenous Land Program
The Government will transfer $56.0 million of unutilised capital from
the Home Ownership on Indigenous Land (HOIL) program to the Home Ownership
Program (HOP) while further land reform takes place on Indigenous land in
remote communities. This will enable more people to access the oversubscribed
HOP. The measure will enable greater flexibility in the use of housing funds to
improve the housing outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Education Action Plan
The Government will provide $15.4 million over four years to support the
implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action
Plan 2010–2014. The Action Plan will set out an agreed national approach
to meeting the Closing the Gap targets through initiatives that aim to
strengthen the education outcomes of Indigenous students.
School Enrolment and Attendance
Trial — continuation
The Government will provide $3.4 million for a one–year extension
of the School Enrolment and Attendance Trial announced in the 2008–09
Budget. This measure will extend the duration of the trial in existing
locations in the Northern Territory and Queensland to 30 June 2011. The aim of
the trial is to increase the level of school enrolment and school attendance.
Skills for Sustainable Growth —
Foundation Skills package — workplace and community language, literacy and
numeracy — expansion
The Government will provide $28.7 million over four years to provide up
to 9500 additional workplace and 8000 additional community–based
language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) training places. Funding for community–based
projects will deliver up to 8000 additional training places to be provided
through short courses in innovative community settings such as neighbourhood
houses, men’s sheds, mothers’ groups, Indigenous support organisations and
Indigenous public sector employment
strategy for non–Australian Public Service agencies
The Government will provide $1.6 million in 2010–11 for
initiatives to increase Indigenous employment across Commonwealth agencies that
are not part of the Australian Public Service. There are 90 agencies not part
of the APS such as the Australian Federal Police.
Business Skills for Visual Artists
(National Arts and Crafts Industry Support element) — continuation
The Government will provide $4 million over four years to continue the
National Arts and Crafts Industry Support (NACIS) element of the Business
Skills for Visual Artists program. The primary focus of NACIS is to support the
operational costs of Indigenous art centres. It also supports the delivery of
professional development and business skills for Indigenous visual artists.
Community Development Employment
Projects — indexation reform
From 1 July 2010, the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP)
program will be indexed by a Wage Cost Index (WCI) consistent with Government
indexation arrangements for all programs with substantial wage costs. This will
replace the current arrangement whereby the program is annually indexed by a
combination of the Consumer Price Index and the non–farm GDP deflator.
This is expected to reduce expenses by $9.3 million over four years.
CDEP — redirection
The Government will reduce funding under the CDEP program by $3 million
in 2010–11. This funding will be redirected to other government
priorities. CDEP will retain $905.4 million over four years from 2010–11
to continue to provide comprehensive access to work readiness activities and
community development projects.
Reform of CDEP program in the
The Government will provide $44.3 million over four years to reform the CDEP
program in the Torres Strait to bring it into line with the national reforms
implemented on 1 July 2009. The CDEP reforms will have an increased focus on
work readiness, getting more people into jobs where opportunities exist,
extending local training opportunities and promoting community development.
Budget Base Funded Child Care
Services — improved standards
The Government will provide $59.4 million over four years to improve the
existing infrastructure of budget base funded (BBF) long day care centres and
increase the qualifications of staff in all BBF child care services. Ongoing
funding for maintenance of qualifications and infrastructure will also be
provided. BBF child care services operate in areas where the child care market
is unable to provide places, largely in rural, remote and Indigenous
National Health and Hospitals
Network — General practice and primary care —establishing Medicare Locals and
improving access to after hours primary care
The Government will provide $416.8 million to establish a nation–wide
network of Primary Health Care Organisations to be known as Medicare Locals,
and improve access to after hours primary care. Medicare Locals will be
responsible for improving the delivery of primary care in local communities by
better connecting hospital, general practices, allied health, aged care and
Indigenous health services, making it easier for patients to get the care they
need, after hours.
National Health and Hospitals
Network — General practice and primary care — improved primary care
The Government will provide $355.2 million over three years to improve
access to primary health care by establishing an additional 23 GP Super Clinics
and providing approximately 425 grants to expand existing general practices and
primary care, community health and Indigenous medical services, to deliver GP
Super Clinic style services.
National Health and Hospitals
Network — Prevention — national tobacco campaign — more targeted approach
The Government will provide $27.8 million over four years to fund anti–tobacco
social marketing campaigns to groups within the community that have been harder
to reach by traditional methods.
National Congress of Australia
National Congress of Australia’s
First Peoples — establishment
The Government will provide $29.2 million over five years from 2009–10
to establish the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. The new
national representative body will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people to engage directly with government on policy development and the
performance of government programs.
Law and Justice Advocacy
Development program — redirect funds to establish the National Congress of
Australia’s First Peoples
The Government will redirect funding from the Law and Justice Advocacy
Development (LJAD) program. This measure will provide savings of $1.2 million
over five years to help offset the cost of establishing the National Congress
of Australia’s First Peoples (the new national Indigenous representative body
was announced on 22 November 2009). Funding of $12.2 million over five years
from 2009–10 will remain available under the LJAD program to support
Indigenous organisations to undertake advocacy, research and community–level
education in relation to law and justice issues.
Indigenous Communities Strategic
Investment program — reduction
The Government will reduce funding for the Indigenous Communities
Strategic Investment program by $48.3 million over five years from 2009–10,
with these funds to be used towards the establishment of the National Congress
of Australia’s First Peoples and a Flexible Funding Pool to support the
implementation of the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership. Remaining
funding for the Indigenous Community Strategic Investment program of $78
million over four years from 2010–11 will continue to be available to
fund individual and community capacity building activities.
Northern Territory policing
presence — staged transition
The Government will provide $9.2 million over two years (including
capital funding of $6000 in 2010–11) to the Australian Federal Police to
extend the deployment of officers to the Northern Territory as part of the
Northern Territory Emergency Response.
National Indigenous Violence and
Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force —continuation
The Government will provide $6.6 million over two years to the
Australian Crime Commission for continuation of the National Indigenous
Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force. Focus will be placed upon
those Indigenous communities at high risk of exposure to organised crime,
family violence and abuse.
Improving Access to Justice
The Government will provide $154 million over four years to increase the
resources available to legal assistance service providers. The funding will
help implement the Government’s Strategic Framework for Access to Justice
through increasing resourcing for legal aid commissions, community legal
centres and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
A new scheme of income management
in the Northern Territory
The Government will provide $410.5 million over six years (including $6
million in 2014–15) for a new scheme of income management in the
Northern Territory. The new scheme will commence from 1 July 2010. Participants
in the new scheme will include:
people aged 15 to 24 who have been in receipt of certain welfare
payments for more than three of the last six months;
people aged 25 and above on specified welfare payments such as Newstart
Allowance and Parenting Payment for more than one year in the previous two
people referred by child protection authorities; and
those assessed by Centrelink social workers as requiring income
management because of financial crisis or domestic violence.
Income management in cases of child
neglect and by voluntary choice —continuation of trial
The Government will provide $17.4 million in 2010–11 (including
capital funding of $28 000) to continue the trial of income management in the
Kimberley region of Western Australia and metropolitan Perth. The trial was
first announced in the 2008–09 Budget and commenced in November 2008.
The trial will be amended to be consistent with the new scheme of income
management in the Northern Territory, in that 50 per cent of welfare payments
(70 per cent in child protection cases) and 100 per cent of lump sum payments
Remote Service Delivery National
Partnership Flexible Funding Pool — establishment
The Government will provide $46.0 million over three years to establish
a Flexible Funding Pool to support the implementation of the Remote Service
Delivery National Partnership agreement that targets 29 remote Indigenous
The Flexible Funding Pool will allow the Government to respond flexibly
and quickly to Indigenous communities’ priorities as identified in Local
Implementation Plans. The Local Implementation Plans will be agreed with
Indigenous communities, State and Territory governments and the Commonwealth
Remote Aviation Infrastructure Fund
— priority airstrips upgrades
The Government will provide funding of $5.9 million over two years to
upgrade up to 19 remote airstrips from the ‘Charter’ safety standard to the
higher ‘Regular Public Transport’ safety standard. The upgrades will help
ensure that the remote Indigenous communities served by these airstrips have
access to regular passenger transport services, as well as medical services and
National Indigenous Television —
The Government will provide $15.2 million in 2010–11 to continue
funding for National Indigenous Television (NITV) for one year. The funding
will provide certainty to the organisation for its immediate future while a
review of the Government’s investment in the Indigenous broadcasting and media
sector, including NITV, is undertaken. NITV is Australia’s only dedicated
provider of Indigenous television content.
Cairns Institute Tropical
Innovation Hub — contribution
The Government will provide $19.5 million over two years to James Cook
University as a contribution towards the construction of a new $44 million
research facility (the Cairns Institute — Tropical Innovation Hub) on the
university’s Cairns campus. The new facility will support 125 research staff
working on issues of significance to the tropics, including marine and climate
science, public health, social and community welfare and Indigenous development.
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