Ten year Funding Boost will bring relief to the bush

Posted: Wed, March 28, 2012

The Central Land Council says today’s announcement of $221 million for outstations and $619 million for community safety over the next 10 years is extremely good news for Aboriginal people in the bush.

CLC Director David Ross said that support and service delivery for outstations has been  one of the most consistent and heart-felt demands from the CLC’s constituents for decades and while the funding for the bush is chronically inadequate, this long-term commitment by the Australian Government will go a long way to assisting people in the bush.

“Outstations can perform a critical role in the maintenance of language and culture, and evidence shows that living on homelands is associated with a range of economic, social and health benefits, which are seen as foundation stones for producing outcomes for the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap agenda. 

“While $20 million a year is spread a bit thin , it does provide some long-term security for the organisations that deliver these services, and we should now expect the NT Government to find matching funds, and review their policy approach to outstations” Mr Ross said.

“We expect these funds will be subject to greater transparency measures to ensure the NT Government spends this money as it is intended, including providing a clear indication of what level of service outstation residents can expect,’ he said.

“Today the Minister has sent a clear positive message that outstations have a future.  The CLC and other Aboriginal organisations look forward to being able to progress other proposals aimed at building a more sustainable future for outstations. 

“These include resourcing a waged program similar to CDEP, to ensure greater community participation, capacity building and social enterprise development.  Working for the dole is never going to be a solution. Our new model for the Northern Territory gives people meaningful incentives and a pathway out of welfare,’ Mr Ross said.

The CLC has called on both levels of government to work with the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT (APO NT) to discuss how to progress housing issues for outstations. 

The $619 million boost to remote policing, community night patrols and legal assistance will also be positively received.

“Substance abuse – alcohol and other drugs - is the most destructive force facing Aboriginal society in our communities and the deaths, suicides and misery which ensue are producing a corrosive despair in people.

“Funding night patrols is a very wise move which engages the community in finding solutions to the problems they face and restores a level of control to communities.

“For the first time we’re seeing funding commitments for a ten year time frame. This is an extremely significant move which recognises the long-term development approach needed in indigenous affairs” Mr Ross said.

Mr Ross is overseas and unable to comment

28 March 2012