Rough Budget deal for ATSI people

Andrew Meehan
National Director, ANTaR

The Federal Budget was appalling for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation’s national campaigns manager Jane Powles said.

Ms Powles said that alongside cuts to Indigenous programs, cuts to Aboriginal organisations, $534 million in cuts associated with "consolidating" 150 program areas into five, and cutting of the Indigenous Languages Program by $9.5 million (among others), many other Budget measures would have a disproportionate impact on the First Peoples.

“If any group should be spared the worst of the budget cuts, it would be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — across every social and economic indicator, they fare the worst,” she said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are, on average, sicker and poorer than other Australians, so the $7 Medicare co-payment will hit them hard,” she also said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a group have far more under 30 year olds than the broader community, and higher rates of unemployment, this again will mean that they will be hit hardest by the Youth Allowance changes.”

Ms Powles said that on winning the federal election Tony Abbott made a personal commitment to being the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, but the Federal Budget told a very different story.

She said the Budget raised a number of questions regarding the Government’s intention with the Closing the Gap policy.

“Along with a $270 million cut over three years for Indigenous health, the axing of the Preventive Health National Partnership Agreement will limit a key approach in closing the health equality gap.”