4 October 2016
PDF versions [609KB]
Jade Koekoe and James Haughton
Social Policy Section
This Quick Guide provides links to:
Australian Government policies
Until 2013 Indigenous policy
and programs were delivered by a range of government departments including, but
not limited to, the Departments of Health, Social Services (formerly Department
of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs—FaHCSIA) and Education
(formerly Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations—DEEWR). Primary responsibility for Australian Government Indigenous
affairs policy and program delivery is now held by the Department of
the Prime Minister and Cabinet
(PM&C), overseen by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. The Prime Minister is also advised by the Indigenous Advisory Council.
Within the Closing the Gap framework (discussed below), the Coalition
Government’s key priorities in Indigenous Affairs have
been stated as school attendance and education, employment, and the rule of
law ensuring community safety, especially for women and children.
With the exception of
Indigenous health programs delivered by the Department of Health, Australian Government
programs in Indigenous affairs are mostly organised under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS). Of PM&C’s 4
year, $8.6 billion Indigenous Affairs budget, $4.9 billion is allocated under
the IAS, and $3.7 billion is allocated through National Partnership Agreements
(discussed below), and other Special Accounts and Special Appropriations. For
more information on government programs, see the Indigenous.gov.au website.
The IAS divides policies, programs and
grants into 5 broad streams:
For information on program spending and contracting by the
IAS, PM&C hosts a database
and a list of all organisations receiving
For ease of use, this Quick Guide groups
Indigenous-related programs which remain in other departments, such as the Department
of Infrastructure’s Remote Aerodrome Inspection Program, under these topic
headings (with the exception of Health programs and National Partnerships).
Jobs, Land and Economy
programs addressing Employment, Land and Economic
Remote Australia Strategies
This includes a wide variety of programs targeted at
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and very remote Australia.
COAG ‘Closing the Gap’
the Gap’ campaign aims to close the health and
life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and
non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
Reform Council Indigenous Reform Agenda is
implemented though a National
Indigenous Reform Agreement created in 2009, which sets ‘Closing the Gap’ targets and the partnership
between all levels of government to address Indigenous disadvantage.
A number of National
Partnership Agreements (NPAs) were created as a
part of ‘Closing the Gap’, specifying Commonwealth, state and territory
government actions to achieve the targets. Some of these are still current and
others have concluded. The Abbott Government expressed a preference for
bilateral project agreements with the states and territories rather than
multi-jurisdictional NPAs, so some of the concluded NPAs have been replaced
with Project Agreements or other programs.
Current National Partnerships about Indigenous issues
Publications tracking progress towards meeting the Closing
the Gap targets include:
The Coalition, Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team
have all expressed support for recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples in the constitution, and opinion polls show broad public
support. Debate continues on what form this recognition should take, and when a
referendum should be held to make the proposed change. The Prime Minister and
the Leader of the Opposition have agreed to be guided by the advice of the Referendum
Council on how to progress the referendum.
Key documents on constitutional recognition include:
Current internet resources on constitutional recognition:
Some other recent reports and
publications on Indigenous issues
Statistics and funding
organisations and businesses
outside Government departments
Statutory and Parliamentary
Peak body land councils are listed here; many areas also
have Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs)
Non-Government and Academic
State, territory and local
government Indigenous affairs websites
For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.
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