LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Central Desert Regional Council will review how it can deliver services to its remote Indigenous communities as it comes to grips with the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) funding offer.
Over 50% of the council’s community services are currently funded by the Federal Government. The provisional advice from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is that we will receive funding in most areas but generally not enough to meet the real cost of service delivery.
Planning in this environment is almost impossible. Now that the first details of the funding have been released, the Council can at least start to consider what services it can continue to provide. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has once again provided short term funding extensions which provides no relief from uncertainty regarding the long-term future of these programs.
Whilst the Council is likely to continue delivering a range of services across the Central Desert region, the Federal Government has missed the opportunity to address funding shortfalls and recognise the importance of these programs in addressing the government’s Closing the Gap priorities.
Council is concerned that the very programs that underpin the government’s focus on kids in school, adults in jobs and safe communities are being undermined by the new IAS funding. The Council estimated a need for $1.5 million to deliver comprehensive youth services to its communities. The Commonwealth has offered $375,000.
The Council’s successful School Nutrition Program, which last year delivered over sixty thousand meals, has had a 20% reduction in funding.
The successful Yuendumu Mediation and Justice program has been reduced to 2011 funding levels despite a cost benefit analysis indicating that the program will save the tax payer $4 for every $1 invested over the coming decade. The Willowra Mediation and Justice program, modeled on the neighbouring Yuendumu intervention, received no funding at all despite the ongoing volatility in the community.
Whilst we are very grateful to the Federal Government for supporting our funding submission when so many missed out, we are disappointed that the government continues to provide inadequate and short term funding offers.
Adequate, secure funding is critical to providing quality services and addressing Indigenous disadvantage. Any reduction in funding directly affects our communities and continues to broaden the gap.
President Adrian Dixon
CEO Cathryn Hutton
Central Desert Regional Council
LETTER TO THE EDITOR