Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

More than $70 million for new services for children and families in the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health Member for Lingiari

Children and families living in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory will benefit from extra support services with a $73.5 million investment over ten years as part of the Gillard Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon today announced that new Communities for Children services would start rolling out across 10 remote communities from the middle of this year.

“All children, no matter where they live, deserve every opportunity to get a great start in life,” Ms Macklin said.

“These new services will give parents the skills to make sure their kids are growing up in a safe, happy and healthy environment.

“Local families will be able to benefit from new programs such as early learning and literacy classes, parenting and family support programs, and child nutrition advice.”

Services will be established in Ngukurr, Galiwinku, Wadeye, Ntaria and Santa Teresa from July 2013, with a further roll out in Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Utopia, Engawala and Lajamanu in 2014. Another five communities will benefit from July 2017, meaning that in total an extra 15 communities will benefit from new services under the expansion.

Mr Snowdon said the new services, funded as part of the Australian Government’s $3.4 billion, 10-year Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package, would respond directly to the needs of families in each community.

“I know how important it is that this vital support isn’t just going to the big towns, but is also benefiting Aboriginal families in remote communities and homelands,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Improving the safety, wellbeing and development of Aboriginal children means working in partnership with local people and local Aboriginal organisations.

“We will make sure these communities have a strong voice in deciding what type of services they want delivered as part of Communities for Children, and we’ll make sure local Aboriginals organisations are partners in delivering these services.”

“I’ve seen how successful Communities for Children services have been for Aboriginal people in other communities throughout the Territory – and I’m really pleased that even more families can now benefit from these important local programs.”

Ms Macklin said the new services would also create new employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people.

“These are brand new services that will build on existing programs already operating in the community, not replace them,” Ms Macklin said.

“We want these services to be delivered by local people, for local people. This means local Aboriginal people can get new skills, new jobs, and help strengthen their community.

“Building healthy families, giving children the best start in life and supporting young people are all crucial parts of creating stronger futures for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”

Other initiatives funded to help families and young people as part of the Stronger Futures package include:

  • funding eight existing supported and intensive playgroups for a further 10 years to help develop children’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities;
  • $31 million over 10 years to continue to support up to 225 early learning and child care places at nine cr`eches in very remote Aboriginal communities, helping prepare children for school and contribute to better health and developmental outcomes;
  • $99 million over ten years for Intensive Family Support Services which will provide continuing practical parenting support in up to 23 locations for families with children at risk of entering the child protection system;
  • continuing support for 16 women’s safe houses in urban and remote areas to protect the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal families and children through crisis accommodation and support services; and
  • continuing the Youth In Communities Program over ten years in more than 30 remote communities. The program focuses on keeping young people connected with school or training, helping prevent youth suicide, self-harm, and alcohol and substance abuse.