The 2018-19 State budget includes very few positives for First Nations South Australians. The positives include a welcomed State contribution of $50,000 (2018-19) towards the provision of permanent community-based dialysis treatment services on the APY Lands, and the establishment of a position for a Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People ($1.3M over 4 years). Uniting Communities hopes that this new role will translate into the needs and interests of Aboriginal children and young people being heard and acted upon.

While the allocation for a scoping exercise ($200,000) and the construction ($60million in 2020-21) of a National Aboriginal Art and Culture Gallery may be welcomed by many, there are critical and urgent issues that remain unfunded in this budget.

For First Nation peoples, there are many more negatives than positives in this year’s budget.

SA Native Title Services: The cutting of the grant to the SA Native Title Service is very worrying as SANTS is already over-stretched and a number of Native Title claims are delayed, sometimes for up to 20 years, due to a lack of resources to expedite claims. This cut is only going to exacerbate the existing bottlenecks and delays in people being able to realise their rights under the Native Title Act.

Remote Aboriginal Housing: Sue Tilley of Uniting Communities says, ‘Given that the National Partnership on Remote Housing (NPRH) expired on 30 June 2018 and that no further funding agreement has been made with the Federal Government, it is very concerning that this budget does not include funding for remote housing in South Australia. We call on the State Government to work with its Federal colleagues to invest in a recurrent program to fund and maintain new and existing houses, and optimise the life of housing assets. With housing being a key social determinant of health and wellbeing, this lack of funding will have a significant and negative knock-on effect on people’s health and wellbeing and will serve to widen the gap of disadvantage’.

Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan: In the absence of additional detail regarding the proposed two-year state-wide Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan – which will apparently include a series of targets to address Aboriginal engagement in education, child protection, health and jobs – it is unclear what this budget line item will involve or what the envisaged outcomes are.

The total income for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation is effectively halved (from the estimated 2017-18 result of $1,334,000 to $660,000) and includes a cut in FTEs from 58.5 to 33.1. These cuts are likely to inhibit the program’s ability to provide effective programs and policy direction.

For media comment:

Manager of Aboriginal Policy and Advocacy, Uniting Communities

Sue Tilley – 0437320954