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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Government delivers long-term commitment to housing jobs, health and police as part of long term commitment to NT

The Howard Government will provide over $740m in further funding for initiatives in 2007-08 and future years, highlighting the Government’s long-term commitment to the Emergency Response to protect children from abuse in the Northern Territory (NT).

These measures back up an agreement reached between the Australian and NT Governments on housing, health, jobs and education for Indigenous kids and families in the NT.

The new measures are:

  • $18.5 million over two years from 2008-09 for 66 additional Australian Federal Police;
  • $514m to repair and build housing in remote communities over the next four years, on top of the $279m already allocated;
  • $100m over two years from 2008-09 for more doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and specialist services;
  • $78.2m over three years to create real jobs in Australian Government service delivery; and
  • up to $30 million over three years to match on a dollar for dollar basis contributions by the NT Government to assist them to convert CDEP positions supporting NT and local government services into real jobs.

The Howard Government has made it clear from the outset that it has a long term commitment to the NT Emergency Response.

These significant funding announcements underscore the extent of that long-term commitment to protecting children now and into the future, building on the initial stabilisation phase.

The funding is provided on the basis that the NT Government agreed to certain conditions including a radical overhaul of the way it delivers Commonwealth funded housing programs. The Northern Territory Government will ensure that sufficient classrooms, equipment and teachers will be provided to cope with an anticipated increase in school enrolments and attendance as welfare reform measures are introduced.

Policing:

The package announced today includes $18.5 million for 66 additional Australian Federal Police to provide community policing in the NT as recently announced by the Prime Minister.

Having an enhanced police presence is critical to community stability and protecting women and children from abuse. Ensuring law and order is critical to the Emergency Response.

Housing:

Today I am announcing $514 million in new funding for Indigenous housing, accommodation and related services in the Northern Territory. This major commitment is on top of the $279 million in funding already allocated to the Northern Territory by the Australian Government for Indigenous housing and related services.

The total of $793 million, to be allocated under the new Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation (ARIA) Programme for use in the Northern Territory over the next four years, forms a large part of the $1.6 billion commitment by the Australian Government for the reform of Indigenous housing which I announced in the last Budget.

This major investment in Indigenous housing will go a long way to addressing the backlog in unmet housing need in Indigenous communities across the NT. Funds will be used to repair and upgrade existing houses and to construct new houses. The NT Government has also agreed to take full responsibility for municipal services across the Territory, including outstations.

The Australian and NT Government will work together to determine where these funds will be spent and will utilise a national competitive procurement process to ensure better outcomes. The building work will also involve many employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people at the local level.

Health:

$100 million (two years from July 2008) will be provided for more doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and specialist services.

The funding will be used to recruit, employ and deploy the necessary health professionals as part of a Remote Area health Corps to improve primary health care for Indigenous children and their families.

The initiative builds on the initial child health checks, more than 2,000 of which have been conducted in 30 communities.

Creating real jobs:

Building on the $11.5m already earmarked for creating real jobs this financial year, Mr Brough said an additional $78.2 million is being made available over three years.

This will underpin the Government’s commitments to support some 2000 Indigenous people currently participating in CDEP moving into real jobs and ensure that Australian Government services in the NT currently assisted by CDEP are maintained. Significant positive impacts on Indigenous job opportunities will also flow from the Government’s overall Emergency Response in the NT.

In addition, the Government has also agreed to provide the NT Government up to $10m per year (i.e. up to $30m over the next three years), on a matched dollar for dollar basis, to assist it convert even more CDEP positions into real jobs in service delivery in its area of responsibility.

Combined, these measures will ensure government services, which in the past have been subsidised by CDEP, including aged care, municipal services, Indigenous education workers and rangers, will continue to be delivered to remote communities.

Education:

Under an agreement with the NT Government, the Martin Government has committed to whatever level of expenditure is required to ensure that all children attending school are accommodated in terms of classrooms and teachers.

The NT and Australian Governments will work together to ensure that as welfare reforms are rolled out in Indigenous communities, adequate responses are in place to ensure that all children of compulsory school age have access to appropriate teaching and learning programs. This will be completed in all schools across the NT prior to commencement of the 2009 school year.

When income management measures are implemented in each community, it is expected that all children of compulsory school age will be enrolled at and attending regularly, with an expectation of a 90% attendance rate, which is consistent with the NT Government’s targets for the attendance rates of remote students to match those of urban students.

This package provides an enormous opportunity to Aboriginal communities in the NT to move forward in a safe, secure environment with a real future.

It gives people confidence that in critical areas like health, housing, jobs and policing, the Howard Government is there for the long haul.

These new funding commitments take to $1,328m over four years, the Howard Government’s commitment to the immediate and longer term phase of the NT Emergency Response.

Funds will also be earmarked through the Government’s Contingency Reserve for the future funding of measures already announced with the legislation package on 7 August 2007.

NTER Funding:

Previously announced:

  • 2007-08 Funding – $587.2m

Announced today:

  • 2008/09 – 2010/11 – Housing – $514m
  • 2008/09 – 2009/10 – Health – $100m
  • 2007/08 – 2009/10 – CDEP – $78.2m
  • 2007/08 – 2009/10 – CDEP (NTG) – $30m (max)
  • 2008/09- 2009/10 – Policing – $18.5m
  • Total (2007/08 – 2010/11) – $1327.9m