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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the budget largely unaddressed: Greens

The Treasurer might have vaguely mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in his budget speech, but the detail doesn’t back up the rhetoric, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“What you don’t see included in the budget papers can be just as concerning as what you do include. This is definitely the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the 2017 Federal Budget.

“There is no commitment resources to the Redfern statement, this is despite it being a document backed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and peoples as essential to close the gap.

“The Redfern Statement is a strong blueprint to close the gap and finally reconciling our First Peoples but remains unaddressed by the Federal Government, who keep saying they will listen but then don’t.

“There is also no addition funding for National Congress of Australia’s First People. At the moment that team are under resourced, having had their funding cut in a previous budget, they need more funding desperately.

“The Abbott Government gutted half a billion from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander funding when they rolled out the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. Although there has been a marginal increase, it does not come close to topping that money back up to original levels.

“When key markers to Close the Gap continue to go backwards, and the Minister is scratching his head as to why, perhaps it is because they removed a lot of money and pushed many of the services to be mainstream rather than Aboriginal-led.

“The Government should actually listen to the host of Aboriginal voices who are offering solutions to reduce disadvantage and reconcile with our First Peoples. We need to be moving forwards, not backwards”.

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