Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Investing to close the gap

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
  • Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth
  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health

The Gillard Government is delivering on our commitment to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage with a $526.6 million boost to education, employment and health services for Indigenous Australians.

Closing the gap is a national goal, which requires the Australian Government to work in partnership with the state and territory governments, businesses, not for profit organisations, Indigenous people and the wider community.

Our unprecedented investment of $5.75 billion over three years is beginning to change the lives of Indigenous people by delivering improved services, better houses and healthier communities, but a sustained effort is required.

The 2011-12 Budget continues the Government’s efforts to address the disadvantage following decades of underinvestment.


Health and Hospitals Fund Regional Priority Round

The Government will invest $1.8 billion to improve regional health infrastructure, through the Health and Hospitals Fund Regional Priority Round.

Indigenous Australians will particularly benefit from $113.4 million of this funding invested in 15 new or expanded Indigenous health clinics and 40 new renal dialysis chairs over five years from 2011-12.

Expansion of Access To Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) Program

The Government is providing $205.9 million over five years to deliver much-needed allied health services to around an extra 180,000 Australians, including 18,000 Indigenous Australians.

This expansion will particularly benefit people with mental illness living in regional and remote Australia who will have access to psychologists and related services, with referral through General Practitioners.

Expansion of Personal Helpers and Mentors and Respite Services

The Government is providing $208.3 million over five years for an extra 425 community mental health workers, called Personal Helpers and Mentors, to work one on one with an additional 3,400 people with severe mental illness, including Indigenous Australians.  Along with services around Australia accessible to Indigenous people, the Personal Helpers and Mentors Program delivers specialist remote services that focus on cultural, mental and physical healing for Indigenous people.
Establishing Quality Health Standards in Indigenous Health Services

To improve the quality and safety of health services delivered to Indigenous Australians, the Government will provide $35 million over four years to continue the Establishing Quality Health Standards program.

This program assists eligible Indigenous health organisations to achieve clinical accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and other important health accreditation through the assistance of one on one expert advice, accreditation support grants and training.

Reform and Expand the Practice Nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers as Domestic Violence Referral Points Project

The Government is providing $8.5 million over four years from 2011‑12 to 2014-15 to expand and reform the support available for women experiencing domestic violence. 

Aboriginal Health Workers and Practice Nurses will now be able to access training to help them feel more confident about recognising domestic violence and be more effective in referring women to support services. 

We expect this will benefit women in rural and remote areas, who are less likely to have access to domestic violence support services.

Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP)

The Government is providing additional funding of $28 million under the Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) over two years from 2011-12 to 2012-13. 

The funding is for critical safety upgrades at remote and isolated airstrips across Australia, including in remote Indigenous communities as required. 

Remote airstrips provide access for essential medical and emergency personnel such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and are sometimes the only way to get food, mail and other supplies into Indigenous communities.  Airstrips are also a lifeline for residents who travel for work, education, medical treatments and other services.

Bringing them Home and Link Up Programs for the Stolen Generations

The Government will provide $54.4 million over five years to continue counselling, family tracing and reunion services for members of the Stolen Generations currently provided under the Bringing them Home and Link Up programs.

The services will be delivered under a cohesive social and emotional wellbeing program ensuring more people in need can access the services and allowing more flexible models of delivery.

Cape York Welfare Reform 

The Government will provide $16.1 million to continue the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge for one year to 31 December 2012.

The trial is benefitting around 2,500 people and working to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

To ensure the trial continues to meet the needs of local people, the Queensland Government will lead a process of consultation with Cape York communities on the extension. 

Indigenous Broadcasting

As part of the Australian Government’s interim response to the Review of the Australian Government’s Investment in the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector released in April 2011, we have announced that National Indigenous Television (NITV) will receive operational funding of $15.2 million for 2011-12.

Education and Employment

Economic participation and employment are fundamental to the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, their families and communities. The Australian Government is investing to help young Indigenous Australians in school make the transition to work, and help Indigenous job seekers find and keep a job, through:

  • $50.7 million for the Indigenous Youth Career Pathways Program to give up to 6,400 Indigenous students the opportunity to get a school based traineeship;
  • $4.1 million over three years to trial the  Indigenous Ranger Cadetships initiative in six schools in regional and remote Australia from 2012, followed by a further six schools from the start of the 2013 school year. The Cadetship will give Indigenous students the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge they need to become a ranger with nationally-recognised qualifications;
  • $171.3 million to extend a range of programs to support educational outcomes for Indigenous students in schools across the country delivered under the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act;
  • $233 million through the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package for new measures to support the very long-term unemployed move into employment. About 17 percent of very long-term unemployed job seekers are Indigenous people;
  • $6.1 million over four years for Job Services Australia to pilot culturally appropriate mentoring supports for Indigenous job seekers mentoring will also be available for pre-placement support; and
  • $1 million to allow greater flexibility for employment service providers in remote areas to work better with job seekers, many of whom are Indigenous, to secure sustainable jobs and meet employers’ needs.