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Budget 2006: Expansion of Remote Area Service Centres.



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The Hon Joe Hockey MP MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES

M E D I A R E L E A S E

9th May 2006

Expansion of Remote Area Service Centres

More than 20,000 Indigenous Australians living in remote areas will benefit from improved access to Australian Government services through Remote Area Service Centres (RASCs), including additional centres in the Northern Territory.

“The Australian Government has committed $6.9 million over four years to providing vital services to people who live in remote areas of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory,” the Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey said.

“In addition to continued funding for 10 established RASCs, two new centres are planned for the Northern Territory towns of Borroloola and Wadeye.

“RASCs provide a permanent infrastructure for the delivery of Australian Government services and payments related to employment, health, welfare and education.

“RASCs have improved participation by offering employment and training to Indigenous people living in remote areas. RASCs are sensitive to the needs of local communities.

“RASCs deliver the full range of Centrelink services to local communities, including access to Centrelink information and claim forms as well as a range of self-help facilities such as Internet access and phone and fax services.

“Since the inception of the Department of Human Services, RASCs are also delivering a range of other services, including Medicare assistance and acting as drop-off points for Australian Hearing customers who need to exchange batteries or equipment.

“The benefits remote communities stand to gain from these centres are unparalleled.

“Between September 2004 and October 2005, communities with RASCs experienced an average 99 per cent increase in referrals to the Job Network as well as increased referrals to Disability Services and Literacy and Numeracy providers.

“They also proved invaluable in reducing and preventing customers from incurring a Centrelink debt, with overpayments in some communities dropping by over 60 per cent.

“Household finances, economic independence, housing and school retention have also improved greatly thanks to the services promoted by RASCs, such as Centrepay - a

Centrelink service that allows people to pay household bills directly out of Centrelink payments.”