Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Building stronger relationships with Northern Territory Aboriginal communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Minister for Disability Reform
    Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari
    Senator Trish Crossin, Northern Territory Senator

The Australian Government is investing $427 million over 10 years to improve the way governments and communities work together including supporting Aboriginal interpreting services, as part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package.

This funding announced in last night’s Budget will allow us to employ Indigenous Engagement Officers in 24 more remote communities over the next two years, creating additional full and part-time job opportunities for up to 60 local Aboriginal people.

The Government currently employs about 30 Indigenous Engagement Officers.

These local Aboriginal people, who understand local issues and local language, help strengthen government’s relationship with Aboriginal people and ensure services and programs are well targeted.

They also ensure Aboriginal people have someone in their community who can tell them about the range of programs and services available to support them.

Indigenous Engagement Officers will work closely with Government Engagement Coordinators, previously known as Government Business Managers, in regional teams to ensure they are well supported in their roles. Government Engagement Coordinators will also work and live in communities.

The Government will also continue to support the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service to recruit, train and mentor interpreters.

This will provide valuable jobs for local people, and assist Aboriginal people to get the most out of services, understand their rights and responsibilities, and have their voices heard in the development of policies that affect their lives.

We will also strengthen the use of interpreters by government agencies to ensure better communication between government and Aboriginal people in the development and delivery of programs.

The Government will also strengthen its investment in governance and leadership development in communities in the Northern Territory, including to:

  • build the capacity of local Indigenous organisations to be involved in delivering important community services
  • provide increased opportunities to develop personal, family and community leadership.

We know that strengthening the governance and leadership skills of individuals, communities and local organisations will lead to more effective participation in decision making, stronger local organisations and families and improved services.

This funding reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to work with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to address the unacceptable levels of disadvantage still faced by too many people, and to build stronger futures together.