Supporting the people of the APY Lands
The Australian and South Australian Governments today announced a range of measures that reaffirm their commitment to improving the health, safety and well-being of people living in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.
The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Grace Portolesi said new measures would help to ensure that people of the APY Lands have better access to fresh, affordable food and that essential investments to support families and create safe communities for children are delivered in a co-ordinated, effective and timely way. Governments will work with the APY Executive to implement these measures.
Ministers have instructed senior officials from the Australian and South Australian Government to begin this work immediately. A joint steering committee of senior government officials will report regularly to both Ministers and will implement the following work.
$4.95 million funding for Family and Wellbeing Centres
All children should grow up in an environment that is safe and healthy.
Australian Government funding of $4.95 million provided to the South Australian Government in June 2008 to address recommendations made in the Mullighan Inquiry will be used to support the establishment of three Family Wellbeing Centres on the APY Lands.
This will ensure Australian Government funding is used effectively to support families and create safe communities for children in the APY Lands.
These centres will bring together a range of family support programs that currently operate from substandard facilities, providing a single, coordinated access point for critical support services. This will include services such as kitchen facilities to run nutrition and healthy eating classes as well as space for parenting and family support programs and temporary accommodation for visiting health and service delivery providers.
This project will proceed as a priority with a tight and strongly managed implementation timetable. A joint steering Committee of senior government officials has been asked to report to both Ministers by the end of October with detailed plans for the construction of these Centres.
The Australian Government has this week deployed a Centrelink team to encourage people receiving welfare payments in the APY lands to use weekly payment options and Centrepay to enable more effective budgeting and financial management.
This will ensure people who need it are able to receive their income support payments weekly rather than fortnightly, and can have regular amounts paid to stores via Centrepay.
Weekly payments and store accounts can help people to budget better for food and other essential items. People requesting weekly payments will participate in a Centrelink budgeting assessment process which will also enable them to learn about other budgeting strategies.
The Australian Government will also immediately deploy a money management team to the APY Lands to run community information sessions about budgeting tools, and money management workshops covering financial literacy education.
A Financial Literacy scoping study is already underway to develop a more comprehensive money management strategy across the APY Lands to be rolled out early in 2012.
Tackling unscrupulous credit practices
The South Australian police will be asked to investigate allegations of unscrupulous consumer and credit practices in stores on the APY Lands and to determine if any laws are being breached.
Both governments have agreed to work with the APY Executive and other partners to address any unscrupulous practices.
Increasing access to fresh and affordable food
Both governments will work with local store committees, to ensure they have access to assistance with governance support and business planning expertise so stores are better able to stock healthy and affordable foods.
Supporting community stores to operate more effectively will help keep operating costs and food prices low. Better run stores mean better food and better prices for local people.
This work will build on the existing APY Food Security Strategy (APY EAT) which brings together both governments, the APY Executive and other partners to develop and deliver initiatives that include education about healthy eating and nutrition, food preparation skills and support for local food production.
Other Australian and State Government Investments
Following recommendations from the Mullighan Inquiry into child abuse in the APY Lands, the Australian Government provided $22.5 million to build a new police station at Mimili and upgrade police stations at Amata and Pukatja. This funding also provided housing for police and child protection workers.
These stations officially opened in November last year and have been helping to improve community safety.
The State Government has provided funding for 19 police officers and additional child protection specialist officers, and school based social workers to reside on the APY Lands, where previously these services were provided on a ‘fly in fly out’ basis.