22/23 Federal Budget
The Close the Gap Campaign acknowledges the increasing cost of living pressures for all Australians and welcomes the interim assistance provided in the Budget announcements.
Furthermore, as a Campaign, we welcome increased funding which is designed to extend already existing programs such as the Red Dust Program and the Indigenous Rangers Program. However, it is disappointing that there is no security of funding and only limited dedicated funding to Australia’s most marginalised communities in areas that currently affect their day-to-day living.
Housing, justice re-investment, and investment in renewable energies are all policy areas that if invested in appropriately, could make significant gains around the 4 Priority Reform Areas including the 17 Closing the Gap Targets. These Priorities and Target areas require urgent and appropriate investment, if we are to genuinely make progress across the Close the Gap Targets.
We acknowledge the previously announced investment for the new National Health Plan (2021-2031) and support the focus for Indigenous led initiatives that provide culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access services.
However, there are no more socially-economically disadvantaged groups than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially in remote communities where cost of living is exuberant and essential services are already stretched.
In recognition of this, the Campaign reiterates that in order to truly Close the Gap, Government must provide targeted and sustainable funding to sectors dedicated to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The 22/23 budget, put simply, maintains what is currently in place and we know that current levels of funding for core services are severely lacking.
Transformative change, bold policy initiatives and structural reform are not generally pursued in tight fiscal environments, as sentiments for risk aversion always dominate policy and funding. But in order to genuinely address the health equity and equality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s, transformative change is what our communities need and deserve.
The work and services that ACCHOs provide to our communities, is possible only through our own innovation, agility and responsiveness. As we continue the work to create transformative change, we, in true partnership, call on Government to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and providers with the appropriate financial support to continue this important work.
June Oscar AO – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, AHRC
Karl Briscoe, CEO, NAATSIHWP