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Restore IAS funding that SA Aboriginal communities need to stay open and sustainable

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How can SA Aboriginal Communities remain open with 90% slashed off the required funding?

This is the question that needs asking of the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion who has repeatedly said of late that he ‘has no intention of closing Aboriginal Communities.’  No organisation, no small business and certainly no Community can stay open when it loses most of its income.  SA Aboriginal Communities have been successfully running essential and effective programs for years providing opportunities for training, support, activities for children and youth, employment for local people, and many other types of community programs designed and run for the Communities by the Communities.  With no funds for programs and administration /governance, how can Communities remain open?

In the last few weeks, Minister Scullion’s Office of Indigenous Affairs under the ironically named Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) has failed to fund (effective on July 1st) Aboriginal Communities right across South Australia.  From Raukkan in the south to far northern Communities, and from Yalata on the Far West Coast to Nepabunna in the Flinders Ranges, all South Australian Aboriginal Communities have been allocated less than 10% of the funding needed to run their Communities.  Community Leaders / Administrators ask how it is possible for a Community to remain open: ‘If they don’t fund the communities it is a given that they will become unsustainable’.

We are not just talking about small homelands. Yalata Community (pictured) is a substantial Anangu Community of 300 people on the Far West coast of South Australia. The Community Council provides municipal services, manages the power station and water supply, women’s services, community landscaping, youth work and training, mail collection, an internet centre, community administration, night patrol, building crew, land management and run the community store. The only funding allocated under the IAS was a small amount for an after school kids club and night patrol. With the cuts occurring through IAS and the introduction of Work for the Dole around 30 local community people will lose their jobs.  All in the name of Indigenous Advancement?  WHY? 

On April 13, following an outcry, a more reasonable agreement regarding the Municipal & Essential Services funding (known as MUNS) was reached between the Australian and South Australian Governments.  This has ensured basic services such as power, water and sewerage to SA Aboriginal Communities, demonstrating that Governments do listen when enough voices are raised.  It can be done!

While the MUNS funding may be resolved for now for SA Communities, the IAS funding remains an absolutely critical issue – programs which Aboriginal Communities have established successfully for the day to day operation of their services for the benefit of their people have not been re-funded.

You can make a difference.  Sign this petition to restore the IAS funding that South Australian Aboriginal communities require to stay open and sustainable.

Where have the funds gone? Aboriginal people are shocked and angry that funds from the Federal Indigenous Affairs budget are being diverted from Aboriginal Communities and Organisations to non-Aboriginal organisations.  Two thirds of the organisations successful in the IAS funding are non – Aboriginal.  They include national sporting organisations, universities, non-government organisations, local government and other government bodies.  “There’s been an assumption we don’t know how to manage our own issues, which is not true”, says one Community Leader.   Is this the Close the Gap strategy that the Prime Minister wants?

Understandably Community Leaders are accusing the Government of making the Communities unviable so that closure is the only option. How does this achieve the stated aims of the Federal Government’s Office of Indigenous Affairs, getting children to school, adults into work and building safe communities?

  • A Community Council Chairperson pleads for the need for people to stay on their own country.
  • After meeting with the Minister a Community Administrator says, “It was quite clear that the impacts and consequences of the decisions, they hadn’t anticipated, they hadn’t foreseen.”  
  • Another summarises: “We wanted to address education and training, health, employment and well- being – bringing the community together. None were funded. I don’t think the ADVANCEMENT STRATEGY is actually interested in advancing Aboriginal Communities!” 

Please sign and share this petition to restore funding directly to SA Aboriginal Communities.

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