Major funding boost for NT Aboriginal communities

5 April 2012 | SNAICC NEWS

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has recently announced major funding over ten years for Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory as part of the Australian Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package.

The funding will boost education, primary health care, remote policing and the safety and well being of Aboriginal children, youth and families in Aboriginal communities, as well as improve municipal services in homelands and outstations.

Over the next decade the Australian Government will invest:

  • $583 million “to ensure all children are getting a decent education and attending school every day”. The funding will enable the retainment of 200 teaching positions in remote NT schools and ensure that all remote teachers, including local Aboriginal teachers, have the skills to provide specialist teaching in intensive numeracy and literacy for students with English as a second language.
    See Joint Media Release - Educating children for a stronger future in the Northern Territory 2/04/2012
  • $719 million to improve the health and wellbeing of 65,000 Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, including through new alcohol and drug treatment services. The Australian Government will continue to fund Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and the Northern Territory Government to deliver primary health care services. See Media Release 29 March 2012.
  • $619 million to strengthen remote policing, community night patrols and legal assistance services. The funding will allow the continued employment of 60 full-time NT police officers in 18 remote communities, and build an additional four permanent remote area police complexes in communities. The funding will also support the continued operations of the successful Substance Abuse Intelligence Desks (SAID) and Dog Operations Unit to reduce substance misuse in remote communities. See Media Release 28 March 2012.
  • $443 million to help support children and families by continuing to fund playgroups, home and parenting support services, youth workers and safe houses to communities for the next decade. The funding will also allow for a major expansion of the number of Communities for Children sites in the Northern Territory, offering a range of services to help parents provide a safe, happy and healthy environment for their children. See Media Release 29 March 2012.
  • $221 million for basic essential and municipal services for the 9,000 Aboriginal people who live on outstations and homelands in the NT. The funding will provide support to supply outstations and homelands with access to power, water and sewerage and road maintenance. It will also support garbage collection, dog control programs and operational costs for organisations that provide municipal and essential services. See Media Release 28 March 2012.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples was among several bodies to welcome the funding for NT communities but express continuing opposition to the Stronger Futures legislation.

“We definitely see this as positive move and congratulate the Government for providing a much more stable arrangement from which communities and organisations can develop and improve their planning,” said Congress Co-Chair, Jody Broun.

“The extra services and infrastructure so far announced are positive and bring Aboriginal communities, including the homelands, closer to the level of service that all Australians would expect to have.”

However, Congress Co-Chair Les Malezer said the representative body remained “extremely concerned that the bills before the Senate may pass without a human rights review in line with commitments the Government has made in relation to other bills.”

SNAICC has also called for major changes to the Stronger Futures package of bills, recommending that the legislation be redeveloped in accordance with international human rights laws to which Australia is bound.

SNAICC also agrees with Congress that the effectiveness of programs and services under the Australian Government funding will rest on partnerships with Aboriginal communities and organisations in the NT.