LETTER: Indigenous homelands funding cautiously welcomed


Sir – Amnesty International welcomes the announcement of a further 12 million dollars for property maintenance across Northern Territory homelands in the State Mini Budget, though remains concerned by the conditions attached to the funding.
The additional funding is to be spread out over four years, with up to $5200 of maintenance works for each eligible applicant living on traditional homelands and outstations.
The organisation is however concerned that among the conditions of the funding, children must attend school for the household to benefit from these services. Amnesty International has criticised policies which link school attendance to welfare payments as being punitive and not addressing the root causes of school truancy.
We have long been campaigning in consultation with remote Indigenous communities for Homelands to be supported by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments. This is a positive step in the right direction.
While this announcement is important in ensuring the future of culture and tradition of Australia’s First Peoples, it must still be noted that there is more that needs to be done.
Amnesty International is hopeful the Federal and NT Governments will continue to fund and consult in partnership with Aboriginal Peoples to ensure the long-term viability of homelands, and for homelands to be included across all policy initiatives and portfolios including programs for health, education and infrastructure.
Among the other announcements was the allocation of funding of $6.2 million over four years to develop and implement reform to local government in the Northern Territory, moving away from Super Shires, a recommendation of Amnesty International’s Homelands Report, delivered earlier this year.
The organisation is also pleased the Regional Governance Working Group reassessing the Super Shires structure will consult with the remote communities affected and have community elders and land councils involved directly in the consultations.
The State Mini Budget announcements follow the renewed commitment in March between the Federal and NT Governments, investing $221 million over ten years, for essential and municipal services to remote outstations.
Sarah Marland
Amnesty International Indigenous Rights Campaigner Coordinator



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