Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory

The Rudd Government is strengthening measures to enhance community safety, tackle child abuse and rebuild communities in the Northern Territory, committing $807.4 million over three years to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Government is moving the Northern Territory Emergency Response to a sustainable development phase to ensure measures will be effective in the long-term, including stronger engagement and partnerships with Indigenous communities.

We are encouraging Indigenous leadership, promoting engagement on key policy decisions which affect Indigenous people and focusing on increased communication with remote communities.

There will also be greater monitoring and evaluation of funding to ensure the Government’s investment is getting results and meeting our targets.

The Government will introduce legislation to lift the current suspension to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) in the 2009 Spring Sittings of Parliament.

We will introduce a compulsory income management system which does not require the suspension of the RDA. This will involve intensive consultation with Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory.

Remote policing and substance abuse

The Government will provide $156.6 million over three years for remote policing and substance abuse initiatives. This will provide five new permanent police stations, operational costs to support the 60 additional police placed in the Northern Territory and training for new Northern Territory Police officers. It will also fund alcohol management plans, signage, licensing inspectors and other activities to reduce substance abuse.

Community law and justice

$80.2 million over three years will be provided to make communities safer and support the justice system by:

  • continuing night patrol services in 81 Northern Territory communities;
  • enabling the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service to meet increased demand;
  • ensuring Indigenous legal services can respond to high levels of need; and
  • continuing the Northern Territory Welfare Rights Outreach project.

Community safety

The Government will provide $28.4 million over three years to support youth projects and services to promote positive behaviours among young people in consultation with Indigenous communities.

Supporting families

The Government will provide:

$32.9 million over three years to:

  • support 22 established safe houses;
  • continue the Mobile Child Protection Team; and
  • continue the work of 13 Remote Aboriginal Family and Community Workers.

$9.1 million over three years for continued operational funding for eight new cr`eches established in the Northern Territory, construction and operation of a ninth cr`eche, and completion of outstanding capital works.

$2.8 million over three years for three new playgroups and five existing playgroups for Indigenous families.

$1.5 million over three years for a range of early childhood services to improve family skills and educate young people about pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Enhancing education

$45.7 million over three years for:

  • accelerated literacy to help children gain critical literacy and numeracy skills; and
  • developing high performing school leaders and quality teachers and increasing teacher retention.

$37.5 million over three years to continue the School Nutrition Program.

$11.2 million to build up to 22 additional teacher houses in Northern Territory communities.

Language, literacy and numeracy

The Government will provide $3.0 million over three years for additional language and literacy training places to enhance sustainable employment prospects for Indigenous Australians.

Improving child and family health

$131.1 million over three years will be provided to continue the current commitment for increased primary health care and follow-up services for dental and ear, nose and throat conditions identified through child health checks. The funding will also provide for expanded services to deal with child abuse-related trauma and for a continuation of increased alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Welfare reform and employment

The Government will provide:

$89.2 million to continue income management in 2009-10 ahead of consultations designed to ensure that income management model is consistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

$18.3 million to strengthen the community stores licensing regime to ensure that food security is strengthened and that community store operators improve their capacity to operate a business and provide a good range of quality food to remote communities.

$4.9 million for financial management support services to assist individuals and families better manage their income.

$11.8 million for the development of a new point of sale payment delivery solution for the BasicsCard from 1 July 2010.

Governance and leadership

The Government will provide:

$84.1 million to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of measures, including the continuation of Government Business Managers.

$34.6 million to help reset the relationship by providing 15 Indigenous Engagement Officers to improve communication and strengthen leadership and community development training.

$11.0 million for program implementation and management, and for evaluation of closing the gap strategies in the Northern Territory.

$10.0 million for flexible funding to address local priorities including environmental health and safety initiatives such as local dog control measures, purchase of IT equipment for community use, essential maintenance and repairs to community facilities and minor community infrastructure projects.

$3.3 million for the Commonwealth Ombudsman to conduct outreach in the Northern Territory and independently investigate complaints and systemic issues about government service delivery in Indigenous communities.

The Government is committed to a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

More information on these measures is contained in the Fact Sheets available online at: FaHCSIA website