More than $1b committed to help Close the Gap

Matt Woodley

5/08/2021 3:14:10 PM

The funding includes $254.4 million to address the life expectancy gap via infrastructure upgrades to Aboriginal Medical Services.

Pat Turner with Scott Morrison
Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The allocation was announced alongside the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, which aims to chart the way towards achieving targets laid out in the National Agreement over the coming decade.
Pat Turner, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, said the announcement shows ‘what can be achieved’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled leaders are given the opportunity to collaborate with governments.
‘Today is another step forward under the historic partnership between the Coalition of Peaks and Australian governments,’ she said.
‘We are pleased that the Commonwealth’s Implementation Plan invests more than $1 billion to support implementation of the Priority Reforms and help close gaps across the socioeconomic areas targeted in the National Agreement.
‘The investment includes some very significant initiatives important to our peoples and to our wellbeing, like the breakthrough in providing reparations to survivors of the Stolen Generations in territories which the Commonwealth was historically responsible for – long called for but long denied until now.’
The plan stems from an agreement made last year by all Australian governments to commit to 17 new targets aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, after the previous Closing the Gap scheme failed.
More than $378 million has been earmarked to support the ‘healing and wellbeing’ of around 3600 Stolen Generations survivors who were removed from their families, in an effort to positively impact their health and the intergenerational healing of their families and communities.
Meanwhile, $254.4 million will be spent on upgrading health services infrastructure for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), and for early childhood support and schooling.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the funding will allow the ACCHOs to continue undertaking critical work ‘on their terms’.
‘This first Commonwealth Implementation Plan sets a foundation for our efforts in achieving the targets in the National Agreement over the coming decade,’ Minister Wyatt said.
‘We will report on our progress each year, and the plan will be updated at the same time in partnership and based on evidence and data. This will keep us accountable and ensure we are aligned with the priorities of the people it affects most.
‘Progress and change are not a Commonwealth responsibility alone and all parties are responsible for delivering on the commitments in the National Agreement. States and territories are delivering their own implementation plans, and together with the Commonwealth’s Plan detail a full picture of the national effort being delivered under the partnership.
‘All parties to the National Agreement are deeply committed to working together with a determination to forge a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.’
Ms Turner said ‘meaningful engagement’ is required at all jurisdictions, not just the federal level, in order to create a genuine partnership that advances the quality of outcomes that emerge from the plan.
‘We look forward to working with the Commonwealth to making sure that funding is delivered consistent with the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement, where programs and services will be developed in partnership with our peoples and where funding will be delivered through our community-controlled organisations,’ Ms Turner said.
‘We have a long way to go to seeing improvements in the lives of our peoples across the country and for the gap in life outcomes to be closed, but today is an important step forward in making this a reality.’
Other health funding allocations contained in the plan include $66 million for strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs treatment services, and support for the Healthy Mums Healthy Bubs initiative, which will see $45 million go towards the delivery of primary healthcare, including maternal and antenatal care services.
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