Page 3150 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Funding levels for Indigenous programs are at an all-time high. The important work lies in understanding why, despite this level of funding, Indigenous members of our community are still over-represented in the justice system and trail behind in health and education outcomes. In an answer to a question taken on notice during the estimates hearings, Minister Rattenbury stated that in the ACT in 2010-11, according to the 2012 Indigenous expenditure report:

… the Australian Government accounted for $100 million (43 per cent) of direct Indigenous expenditure, with the remaining $131 million (57 per cent) provided by the ACT Government …

That is $231 million targeted at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or just over $40,000 per person currently identifying as an Indigenous person within the territory. Whilst I am not suggesting that there is over-funding in this space, I do feel that it is appropriate at this time that these programs are properly scrutinised to ensure that they are improving the outcomes for Indigenous members in our community and also that these programs are being delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

I would like to add further comments relating to an issue that does not technically fall within this line item of Community Services but is within the Health budget. I am sure that members will allow me to digress in this instance, as the delays relate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol facility, commonly referred to as the bush healing farm. The delays here are of a significant concern. I am somewhat taken aback by the lack of clarity in relation to capital works projects in general. However, I note in particular the blowout in cost, the downgrading of scope and the repeated push back of the delivery time for this facility. This is a project that shows yet again that the government has got an inability to manage capital works projects. This project has now been delayed by five years, the cost has blown out by almost $2½ million, and the scope has changed to now only having accommodation for eight individuals.

Finally, I would like to turn my focus to youth and youth services. The provision of youth services is yet another portfolio area that crosses over a number of portfolio areas. Again, as I navigated the budget papers for the first time in this place I was struck by how difficult it often is to ascertain the detail of where funding is directed. In an answer to a question on notice where I asked the minister to provide some detail on what exactly was being funded by the $5 million over the next four years for youth engagement and family support services, I was informed:

The initiative under this budget funding is the expansion of the Youth Engagement Services delivered under the Child, Youth and Family Services Program to help vulnerable young people to engage and re-connect with support services, with a focus on early intervention and providing wrap-around services …

I interpret that statement as “I am not entirely sure”. Is it that this funding forms part of the Labor-Greens agreement to “Provide an extra $1.2 million per annum in funding for community based youth services”? The lack of detail surrounding these

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video