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Where is the money for indigenous people going?

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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Federal Member for Fremantle

Thursday, 2 May 2002

Where Is The Money For Indigenous People Going?

Australians should watch exactly where the money targeted for Indigenous people is going in this year’s Federal budget.

Labor has discovered that 47% of the Department of Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs budget last financial year was expended on litigation against the interests of Indigenous people in cases such as the Gunner and Cubillo Stolen Generations case.

This use of funds seems decidedly against the core function of the Department which is to provide “advice which acknowledges and values the cultures, heritage, rights, and aspirations of Indigenous people, and supports the creation and nurturing of opportunities for Indigenous people to meet their aspirations thus contributing to social justice and equity in Australia.”

The Government continues to announce at every opportunity that it spends a record $2.3 billion on Indigenous people, but as we can see from last years federal budget:

• Only $1.1 billion of this goes to ATSIC, the rest is administered through other government departments; • $16.3 million was allocated to the Attorney-General’s Department and to the States for litigation against native title claimants, $12 million to the Federal Court to hear these cases,

and $28.5 million to the National Native Title Tribunal to mediate; • So-called ‘Indigenous specific funding’ includes Indigenous cultural, education and recruitment programs in the Departments of Defence ($1 million), Foreign Affairs and

Trade ($266,000) and Australian Customs ($210,000), as well as the collection of data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics ($6.1 million); and • Only $2 million was allocated to Indigenous family violence. This follows cuts to ATSIC funding in 1996 that led to the termination of family violence programs.

The Howard Government has spent five years talking about their commitment to “practical reconciliation” and continues to trumpet their “record spending on Indigenous people” - yet a closer look at the Federal Budget shows that very little of this money goes directly to assisting Indigenous people overcome disadvantage.

Labor warns everyone to look closely at this year’s Budget for the detail of where the money badged as Indigenous is really going.

Contact: Jo Fox Ph: (02) 6277 4181 or 0419 963 486