2014-15 Federal Budget Summary

 In News
  • The 2014-15 Federal Budget outlines a total of $549.4 million of savings from Indigenous programs. This includes $15m from Congress and $534.4m from program consolidation within Prime Minister & Cabinet (PM&C).
  • It is not clear from the Budget what programs will be cut or consolidated as part of the changes within PM&C. There is very little detail on the savings within PM&C outlined in the Budget Papers.
  • Minister Scullion’s media release states there is $4.8 billion in investment however there is no detail about where this investment is directed either within in the media release or Budget papers.
  • A total of $197.4 million of Indigenous specific spending measures are detailed in the Budget from the Department of PM&C. This spending is focused on policing and school attendance in remote communities and $13 million for the Clontarf Foundation.
  • An additional $36 million of spending is outlined in the Budget for Indigenous specific programs from other portfolios.
  • What’s missing? There is no mention of funding for a further national partnership agreement on Indigenous health or investment for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan. Funding for programs to reduce incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and a clear focus on this issue in policy and program frameworks is also missing.
  • Most significantly there is confirmation of funding cuts to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
  • There is no specific mention of the Empowered Communities initiative or any other specific funding measures other than those outlined below.

New Policy Announcements 

  • A new “Indigenous Advancement Strategy” comprised of five programs within PM&C.  The programs will include:
    • Jobs, Land and the Economy – focused on jobs, business and the use of land for economic development.
    • Children and Schooling – focused on school attendance, improving education outcomes, early childhood and families.
    • Safety and Wellbeing – focused on health and social and emotional wellbeing.
    • Culture and Capability – focused on maintaining culture, social and economic participation and that organisations are capable of delivering quality services.
    • Remote Australia Strategies- focused on strategic investment in local, flexible solutions based on communities priorities and remote housing and infrastructure.
  • A new “Remote Community Advancement Network” to be established within PM&C.
  • Health funding to be “refocused” under the “Indigenous Australians Health Programme”.
  • The Government will respond to the Forrest Review of Indigenous Training and Employment later this year and the Treasurer has indicated that there are funds held in Contingency Reserve for these measures.
  • The Government’s priorities remain “getting children to school, adults into work and building safe communities”.
  • The Minister’s media release states that “the 2014-15 Budget invests $4.8 billion to replace more the 150 individual programs and services with five streamlined broad-based programmes under an Indigenous Advancement Strategy”, however no detail is available.
  • The Government will reform National Partnership Agreements “to ensure money spent achieves results”.
  • The NPA on Remote Service Delivery will be replaced by the new “Remote Community Advancements Network” and bilateral arrangements with each state and territory.
  • The NPA on Remote Indigenous Housing will be continued through a $2.2 billion investment over five years with more stringent conditions based on government priorities and negotiated bilaterally with each state and territory.
  • Stronger Futures will be revised in collaboration with the Northern Territory Government to place greater emphasis on results, however overall levels of funding looked to be maintained. 

Savings Measures

  • A rationalisation of Indigenous programs within the Department of Minister and Cabinet will result in savings of $534.4 million over five years. This includes over 150 programs being consolidated into a new Indigenous Advancement Strategy comprised of five programs focusing on Jobs, Land and the Economy; Children and Schooling; Safety and Wellbeing; Culture and Capability; and Remote Australia Strategies.
  • $409.2 million (over four years from 14/15) of these cuts will come from within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and $3.5 m (over 4 years from 14/15) will come from the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The remainder will come from the Department of Health ($165.8m over 5 years). The Health portfolio savings from this measure will be invested in the “medical research future fund”. There is no mention as to where savings from PM&C will be invested.
  • Cessation of funding for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – $15 million over three years. As previously flagged the budget confirms that funding for Congress will be ceased and redirected to “repair the Budget and fund policy priorities”.
  • Indigenous Languages Support Program – $ 9.5m of savings over four years This saving reduces the additional funds provided in the 2013-14 Budget to expand the Indigenous Languages Support Programme by around $2.3 million per year. The ILS will continue to receive funding of $11.1 million per year. This program is funded through the Attorney Generals Department.

Indigenous specific expense measures outlined in the Budget

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio:

  • Clontarf Foundation – expansion $13.4 million over four years to fund an additional 3,000 places for boys to participate in the Sporting Chance Program. Includes $300,000 over two years from 2014-15 for an independent evaluation of the Foundation’s Academy Program.
  • Community Engagement Police Officers in the Northern Territory $2.5 million over four years to the Northern Territory Police for up to eight Community Engagement Police Officers in 2014-15 and four officers in 2015-16 – unclear whether this is an additional four. – unlikely given the funding is $1m in 2014-15 then $0.5m for the three years after.
  • Permanent Police presence in remote Indigenous communities$54.1 million over four years to construct police infrastructure in up to seven remote communities in Queensland, WA and SA. An additional six police complexes will be constructed in the Northern Territory from existing funding of $48.7 million allocated under the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory National Partnership Agreement. The Government will focus on Indigenous communities with populations of greater than 300 that do not currently have a permanent police presence or are not located within a reasonable distance of the nearest police station. Government support will be contingent upon the States and the Northern Territory committing to provide sufficient ongoing policing resources to use the facilities. This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment.
  • Extension of the Remote School Attendance Strategy – an additional $18.1 million over two calendar years from 1 April 2014 to extend the Remote School Attendance Strategy to a further 30 remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. The Strategy commenced in the second school term of 2014 and will conclude at the end of the 2015 school year. The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This proposal builds on the measure titled Remote School Attendance Strategy announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-14. Further information can be found in the press release of 4 April 2014 issued by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
  • Outback Power – $10.6 m over four years to service up to 250 existing renewable energy systems in remote Indigenous communities in Queensland, Western Australia and the NT.

Other portfolios: 

  • $3.3m in 2014-15 to AIATSIS for digitisation of Indigenous cultural resources via the Department of Education.
  • Additional funding of $6.8m in 2014-15 for remote Indigenous students to attend non-government boarding schools (through the Department of Education). The assistance will be provided to non-government schools with more than 50 Indigenous boarding students from remote or very remote areas or where 50 per cent of boarding students are Indigenous students from remote or very remote areas.
  • $25.9m in 2014-15 for Indigenous teenage sexual and reproductive health and young parent support. This funding will be provided to states and territories for health promotion and education and to provide clinical support for young mothers to continue activities currently funded under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development which ceases on 30 June 2014.

National Partnership Agreements (NPAs)

  • The only funding detailed in the Budget for the National Partnership on Indigenous Health post the 2014-15 financial year is for trachoma control services ($4.2 million per year for three years until 2017-18) and for reducing acute rheumatic heart fever among Indigenous children ($3.1m in 15-16 and $2.7m in 16-17).
  • Funding under the Stronger Futures in the NT NPA, including the school attendance measure (SEAM) is detailed for a number of measures until 2017-18. The Stronger Futures funding announced in last year’s budget of $3.4 billion over 10 years looks to be maintained.
  •  There is no funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Development for the 2014-15 year or beyond other than the spending measure outlined above. This partnership provided funding up until 30 June 2014 for the establishment of 38 children and family centres across Australia by mid-2014
  • The NPA on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education has money held in the Contingency Reserve for additional funding in 2014-15 and 2015-16 subject to negotiations with states.
  • The NPA on Remote Indigenous Housing is detailed in the Budget until 2017-18 at a total of $2.2 billion over five years.
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