Commenting on the 2018 Federal Budget, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“The lack of significant funding commitments in this Budget to address the worsening health and unacceptable disadvantage, poverty and discrimination faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is deeply concerning.
“In a Budget that claims to deliver for the battlers, the Government has failed to provide the certainty and hope that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been seeking.
“The so-called plan to address the appalling deficit in Aboriginal health is merely a plan of words rather than deeds. While the Government found $550 million for rural health services, it has failed to address the identified service gaps that face Aboriginal people in remote Australia.
“Nor has the Government made any commitment to fund the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.
“This is totally unacceptable when on average, our nation’s First Peoples continue to die at least a full decade younger than other Australians and the difference in life expectancy is widening – despite promises over the past 10 years to ‘close the gap’.
“While we welcome the plan to create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund, other Government policies in this Budget will adversely affect Australia’s First Peoples.
“The Government is continuing with the harsh Community Development Program, despite making some minor changes. And it has effectively abandoned the National Partnership for Remote Indigenous Housing, with no funding commitments for Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia.
“Its plan to deduct welfare payments from fine defaulters will impact greatly on some of the most disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, especially in rural and remote areas. At the same time, the Budget has yet again failed to tackle appalling and increasing rates of Indigenous over-imprisonment.
“The Budget has also ignored the need to properly fund a national representative body to inform and work with Government.
“Oxfam Australia shares the widespread concerns of Australia’s Indigenous leaders and peak groups – this Budget has been yet another squandered opportunity to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to drive the solutions to the challenges they face.”
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