Government must strengthen sustainable funding models

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges that there will be no additional funding cuts to the Indigenous Affairs portfolio in this year’s Federal Budget. It is however, incumbent upon the Government to strengthen the sustainable funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs.

CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Mr Justin Mohamed, said, “the announcements that no further savings will be made at the expense of Indigenous Affairs, as well as the reinstatement of funding for legal services, is a positive indication that the government is listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

While the sustained levels of funding represent a positive step, Reconciliation Australia believes the savings of $534 million made during the 2014-15 Budget should be reinvested within Indigenous Affairs. Additionally, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples should continue to receive Government support until they are self-sustaining. A strong, representative voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is essential to ensure ongoing progress.

Currently, the exact detail and impact of many Budget measures is unclear, especially regarding changes to funding in the Northern Territory and remote housing support.

“We saw during the Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding process that a lack of transparency and engagement led to uncertainty and anxiety within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, said Mr Mohamed.

“Such an environment directly impacts our ability to work together to achieve positive outcomes for all Australians. The way to avoid this uncertainty is to meaningfully and genuinely engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities.”

The focus on the Employment Parity Initiative, increased government procurement and a commitment by the public service to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment equality are important initiatives. Reconciliation Australia believes that the emphasis given to sustainable employment and procurement should be replicated across other key areas such as health, education, and access to justice. Reconciliation Australia will continue to advocate for targeted government investment these areas.

“While it is promising no further cuts have been made, it is essential that the Government ensure that there is better engagement and planning in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Mr Mohamed said.

“We hope this Budget signals a resetting of the government’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. We must create strong and respectful relationships as we build on our momentum towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.”

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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