Indigenous affairs: a quick guide to key internet links

4 October 2016

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Jade Koekoe and James Haughton
Social Policy Section

This Quick Guide provides links to:

Australian Government policies and programs

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 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 of grants and a list of all organisations receiving grants.

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

This includes programs addressing Employment, Land and Economic Development

Children and Schooling

Safety and Wellbeing

Culture and Capability

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’ framework

The ‘Closing 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.

The COAG 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 include:

Publications tracking progress towards meeting the Closing the Gap targets include:

Constitutional recognition

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


Directories of organisations and businesses

Key organisations outside Government departments

Statutory and Parliamentary

          Land related
          Land Councils

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

Overseas websites


Specific countries

For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.

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