Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Closing the gap – $666 million for NT Indigenous communities

The Australian Government has committed $666.1 million to fund practical measures in Northern Territory (NT) communities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous families and children.

The Government is committed to ensuring the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) serves the interests of children.

The Government will commission an independent and transparent review of the NTER later this year to assess its effectiveness and inform future decision making.

Many of these measures deliver on the Government’s election commitments for NT communities.

Early childhood – $3.4 million

The Budget provides $3.4 million for early childhood development services including five playgroups and 10 cr`eches established under the NTER:

  • $0.4 million for early childhood programs to support learning and development opportunities for children, improve their life chances and encourage a smoother transition to school and later employment.
  • $2.3 million to support 10 new cr`eches and give Indigenous families in regional and remote areas access to childcare services.
  • $0.7 million to support five playgroups for disadvantaged Indigenous families and provide a safe development environment for children and their carers.

Education – $154.2 million

The Budget provides $154.2 million to expand educational opportunities for Indigenous children:

  • $28.9 million to build three new Indigenous boarding facilities to improve access to secondary school facilities for remote Indigenous students.
  • $19.1 million for teachers’ professional development, additional classrooms and literacy and numeracy programs for Indigenous school children.
  • $7.4 million for the School Nutrition Program to provide breakfast and lunch to school-aged children in the 67 community schools in NTER communities.
  • $98.8 million to increase the number of teachers in the NT by 200.

Employment – $168 million

$168 million is provided for employment and pre-employment services and Community Employment brokers in the NT to increase Indigenous access to skills development and jobs:

  • $92.6 million to fund the creation of off CDEP jobs that support delivery of Australian Government funded services. These jobs are in a range of sectors with 290 ranger and pastoral management jobs due to start before 30 June 2008. A further 900 jobs are expected to be realised across the NT.
  • $9 million for costs associated with moratorium on CDEP.
  • $21.4 million for 30 Community Employment Brokers and other personnel costs.
  • $45 million for employment services.

Welfare reform – $75 million

The Government is committed to a child-centred approach to family policy including measures such as income management to ensure that welfare payments are spent in the interests of children:

  • $75 million for the further implementation of income management in the NT.

Health – $113.3 million

The Budget provides $113.3 million for funding for health services in the NT, with a focus on children:

  • $ 13.6 million to complete specialist ear, nose and throat treatments, hearing assessments and dental services for children who have had child health checks as part of the NTER.
  • $99.7 million to improve child and family health and expand health service delivery in the NT.

Law and order – $78 million

The Budget provides $78 million for interrelated measures designed to improve community safety:

  • $9.8 million will ensure that families and children in 22 remote communities will continue to receive support and assistance from a local Aboriginal family and community worker and/or a safe house. A mobile child-protection team based in Darwin will continue to support families in remote communities.
  • $9.5 million for alcohol diversionary activities for young people between 12 and 18 years. These activities offer a range of safe and healthy alternatives to drinking and other substance abuse and promote school attendance and pathways to training and employment.
  • $51.7 million to promote law and order including night patrols in remote communities and the continued deployment of 66 additional Australian Federal Police, and activities linked to the NT’s alcohol and pornography laws.
  • $2.8 million to continue legal aid and interpreter services for Aboriginal people who require support from issues arising out of the NTER.
  • $4.2 million for the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Taskforce.

Governance and Leadership- $74.2 million

$74.2 million is provided for management and governance activities to ensure the above measures are implemented and monitored:

  • $63.2 million for Government Business Managers to operate at the local level ensuring coordination and decision-making is tailored to the needs of each community and logistical support.
  • $7.0 million for ongoing accommodation for government personnel in remote communities.
  • $3.8 million to foster greater involvement of Indigenous communities in government policy development and service delivery at the local level. These funds will also be used to employ up to 20 Indigenous community members as community agents. This will give local families a greater voice in making their communities safer.
  • $0.2 million to continue the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman in the NT and undertake an independent review of the NTER.