The Australian Government recognises the importance Indigenous Australians place on maintaining connection to land and waters. This connection is the basis of relationships, identities, cultural practices and Indigenous wellbeing at both the individual and community level.
The following initiatives aim to support cultural connection and the empowerment of Indigenous Australians.
Access to traditional land
The Developing Northern Australia White Paper comprises part of an ambitious plan to have all current native title claims finalised within a decade. This will move to resolve native title claims allowing native title holders to more easily use their rights or interests for economic development opportunities, including training and employment. The White Paper will deliver simpler and more secure land arrangements in the north, by investing:
- $20.4 million to support native title bodies to realise their potential and negotiate more efficiently with business
- $17 million to support secure property rights through more cadastral surveys, area mapping and township leases
- $10.6 million for pilot land tenure reforms to fund ‘next steps’ for projects that demonstrate the benefits of tenure reform. They will cover native title, Indigenous land and pastoral leasehold.
The Aboriginal Land Commissioner is a statutory officer of the Commonwealth appointed to perform functions outlined in section 50 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. The Aboriginal Land Commissioner aims to support the resolution of remaining land claims in the Northern Territory.
Empowered Communities involves Indigenous communities and governments working together to set priorities, improve services and apply funding effectively at a regional level. Importantly, it aims to increase Indigenous ownership and give Indigenous Australians a greater say in decisions that affect them.
The Australian Government has provided $33 million over six years to 30 June 2022 to fund ‘backbone organisations’ in the nine regions. This supports critical capability for Indigenous leaders as they work with their communities and partner organisations to identify and progress local priorities.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
The My Life, My Lead, report on the national consultations held during 2017, will inform the refresh of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan. This presents an opportunity to consider new ways of working that take into account the impacts of social determinants and the supportive role culture plays in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A social determinants and cultural determinants approach to health supports the
Australian Government’s commitment to a range of international treaties and obligations,
including commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.
The Australian Government works collaboratively with states and territories to develop national priorities for schooling based on the best evidence of what works to improve student outcomes and close gaps. Through the Council of Australian Governments, there has been agreement to strategies relating to improving the quality of schools and education standards.
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy includes funding for Indigenous communities to support a range of childhood and schooling activities designed to improve children and young people’s education engagement and outcomes.
In line with recommendations of the 2012 Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, all Australian universities have strategies in place for improving Indigenous Australians’ access to, and outcomes from, higher education.
Early childhood education
The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a home based early learning and parenting program that empowers parents and carers to be their child’s first teacher and to support children to transition to school and beyond. HIPPY is now operating in 100 sites across Australia, of which half are located in predominantly Indigenous communities.
The Australian Government is supporting the Northern Territory to expand its Families as First Teachers Program through the National Partnership on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment.
The English Language Learning for Indigenous Children trial aims to support Indigenous preschool children, for whom English is an additional language or dialect, to learn English in a fun and engaging way.
The Department of Health and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment are jointly funding the Connected Beginnings Program to support the integration of early childhood health and education and family support services to assist 0–5 year old Indigenous children to achieve the learning and developmental outcomes necessary for a positive transition to school.
Literacy and numeracy
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy was endorsed by education ministers on 18 September 2015. Under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy, education ministers have agreed to a set of principles and priorities that will inform jurisdictional approaches to Indigenous education.
In December 2015, the Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages was added to the Australian Curriculum. The Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages is the first national curriculum document from Foundation to Year 10, to provide a way forward for all schools in Australia to support the teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. It outlines principles and protocols for respectful engagement with Indigenous communities.
The Australian Government is funding the Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools Program. The program aims to increase literacy levels amongst students attending remote schools. There are currently 13 schools participating in the program. The funding supports schools to implement two proven explicit teaching approaches: Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction.
To assist teachers to increase implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross Curriculum Priority, in 2017, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (funded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment) released illustrations of practice to provide practical examples of how schools and teachers can include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in their classrooms.
In the Foundation Skills for Your Future Program, eligible employed or recently unemployed Australians can undertake free accredited and non-accredited training to improve their language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) skills to support them in the workplace. Employers seeking to develop the skills of their workforce to meet current and future skills needs can contact one of the approved Service Providers in their region to develop a project to deliver LLND skills training that meets both their and their employee needs.
The Foundation Skills For Your Future Remote Community Pilots will commence in late 2020 and will run through until 30 June 2023, delivering foundation LLND skills, training and assessment in four remote communities; one in each of the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Queensland. These Pilots will provide tailored and flexible LLND skills training to meet local community needs. The Pilots aim to:
- improve the LLND skills of community members in the remote communities
- identify and develop systemic approaches to LLND skills training delivery in remote communities.
The Australian Government is funding Commonwealth schools using the Schooling Resource Standard, which is an estimate of how much total public funding a school needs to meet the educational needs of its students. Funding provided through the Indigenous loading will grow by 78.4% over 2018–2029. In 2020, this additional funding is expected to benefit around 234,396 students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
On 1 January 2019, the National School Reform Agreement (the Agreement) commenced to lift student outcomes across Australian schools. At the centrepiece of the Agreement are eight national policy initiatives that will help improve student achievement and school performance. State-specific initiatives that align with the national reforms are set out in bilateral agreements and include activities to support improved outcomes for specific cohorts of students, including Indigenous students.
On 12 December 2019, Education Ministers committed to national education goals and actions for the coming decade through the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration. The Declaration builds on the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians and reflects Australia’s vision for a world class education system that encourages and supports every student to be the best they can be, irrespective of their location or any learning challenges they may face. The Declaration also renews the commitment to celebrate and learn from Australia’s first peoples, and ensure that young Indigenous Australians are supported to achieve their potential.
The Allied Health in Remote Schools Project (AHRSP) will provide allied health services to support Indigenous students with disabilities in selected remote primary schools in Tennant Creek, Yuendumu and Papunya and assist in building the capacity of the school staff. The long‑term outcomes of the AHRSP aim to see improvements in school attendance, teacher retention, community attitudes, local allied health workforce and student outcomes.
Educational participation of adults
The Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017–20, adopted in February 2017, brings all member universities together to achieve common goals to advance Indigenous participation and success in higher education.
Financial assistance is available to Indigenous young people to study or do training via ABSTUDY. The purpose of the ABSTUDY scheme is to address the particular educational disadvantages faced by Indigenous Australians by improving educational outcomes to a level equivalent to that of the Australian population in general.
The Indigenous Student Success Program provides $71 million in supplementary funding annually to 40 universities to drive better outcomes for around 20,000 Indigenous students in higher education. Universities use the funding to provide targeted support, including scholarships, tutorial assistance, mentoring, providing safe cultural spaces and other personal support services.
Employment and economic opportunities
Mainstream Australian Government-funded employment services, in urban and regional locations, provide support and assistance to around 112,000 Indigenous job seekers through a number of programs and initiatives, including: jobactive (including the New Employment services Trial and Online Employment Services), Transition to Work, ParentsNext and Time to Work Employment Services). The Government also funds Indigenous job seekers through Disability Employment Services and the Community Development Program:
- As at 30 September 2020, around 112,000 Indigenous job seekers were being assisted in jobactive, with culturally appropriate pre-employment training, mentoring, work trials, preventative health activities, additional support to participate in community based work experience and Work for the Dole activities that allow Indigenous Australians to gain skills while helping their community.
- Disability Employment Services (DES) seek to improve workforce participation of people with disabilities by providing assistance in preparing for, finding and retaining employment, for people whose primary barrier to employment is their disability, injury or health condition.
- Support through DES is not related to NDIS eligibility. The service providers are experienced in supporting people with disability as well as providing assistance to employers to put in place practices that support the employee in the workplace.
- DES has two parts. The first is the Disability Management Service which is for job seekers with a disability, injury or health condition who need assistance to find a job and occasional support in the workplace to keep a job. The second part is the Employment Support Service, and this provides assistance to job seekers with permanent disability to find a job and who need regular, ongoing support in the workplace to keep a job.
- 21,267 participants who have identified as being Indigenous were assisted in DES between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019. Note that DES and jobactive do not operate in remote regions of Australia (the Community Development Program operates in these locations).
- Transition to Work is a service for young people aged 15–24 years and provides intensive pre-employment support to improve work-readiness, and supports participants into employment (including apprenticeships and traineeships) or education. The service is currently assisting approximately 14,300 Indigenous young people (as at 30 September 2020).
- ParentsNext provides parents of young children with pre‑employment support to help them proactively plan and prepare for employment before their youngest child starts school. In the 2020–21 Budget, $24.7 million has been allocated to streamline the ParentsNext program to better support parents – mainly women – to plan and prepare for a return to employment in the COVID-19 recovery. As at 30 September 2020, 25,000 Indigenous parents had participated in ParentsNext since July 2018.
- Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) helps young people gain skills and work experience through Employability Skills Training (Prepare), Internships (Trial) and Youth Bonus wage subsidies (Hire). As at 31 August 2020, 8,452 Indigenous young people had participated in Employability Skills Training, 2,110 Indigenous young people had been placed into internships, and 11,914 Indigenous young people had been placed into employment with a Youth Bonus wage subsidy, since the program began.
- The Local Jobs Program will support tailored approaches to accelerate reskilling, upskilling and employment in 25 regions across Australia. The program aims to ensure the maximum number of people are placed in appropriate employment or training opportunities as quickly as possible to meet employer needs as labour markets recover from COVID-19.
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy Jobs, Land and Economy Program complements mainstream employment services and programs, by increasing employment, business and economic development.
- The Vocational Training and Employment Centres initiative connects Indigenous job seekers with guaranteed jobs and bring together the support services necessary to prepare job seekers for long term employment. The guarantee of a job before job specific training starts is the key feature of VTEC. It ensures:
- vocational or job-specific training is directly related to available jobs
- employers can recruit Indigenous job seekers with the right skills for specific jobs
- job seekers choose to participate in the program
- the commitment of job seekers is rewarded with guaranteed employment.
- The Employment Parity Initiative (EPI) aims to increase Indigenous employment in large companies to reflect the proportion of the Indigenous population nationally—approximately 3%. The EPI will leverage the business expertise, goodwill and networks of companies involved, providing a platform to share experience and knowledge. Employers will also be encouraged to incorporate more Indigenous businesses into their supply chains.
- Tailored Assistance Employment Grants aim to increase the employment and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school, university students and working age job seekers at the local level. TAEG has been designed to respond flexibly to local employment conditions with three streams which target specific cohorts of the Indigenous population to maximise outcomes for jobseekers. The streams are:
- employment – support for job seekers to address barriers to recruitment and improve retention in the workplace, and support for employers to engage and retain job seekers into ongoing jobs, including post-placement support
- school-based traineeships – support for secondary students to gain work experience and prepare for post-school transition into further study or employment
- cadetships – support for university students to receive paid work-placement opportunities during the course of their study.
- Time to Work Employment Service (jointly funded through the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment), is a voluntary in-prison service that offers assistance to adult Indigenous prisoners to help them prepare for employment, connect with post-release employment services and reintegrate into the community upon their release.
- The Indigenous Ranger program creates meaningful employment, training and career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in land and sea management. Indigenous ranger funding has created more than 2100 full-time, part-time and casual jobs for Indigenous Australians around the country.
- There are other programs that provide full-time equivalent positions: Indigenous cadetships, which link employers with students undertaking their first undergraduate degree; and Indigenous Enterprise Development funding to support Indigenous entrepreneurs or organisations to start or grow a sustainable business.
- The Community Development Program (CDP) is the mainstream remote employment service operating in 60 regions across remote Australia, covering 75% of the Australian landmass. The impact of COVID-19 has seen an increase to the CDP caseload to around 40,000 participants, approximately 77% of whom are Indigenous. The program supports job seekers to build their employability skills and contribute to their communities through participation in work‑like activities and training. Job seekers also have the opportunity to gain work experience in hosted placements with local employers to prepare them for the transition to employment.
- The 1,000 Jobs Package is a wage subsidy to support the creation of 1,000 new jobs for CDP participants.
In addition to the IAS, the Australian Government has committed to increasing the level of Indigenous participation in the delivery of government contracts. The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) is a mandated procurement connected policy designed to stimulate Indigenous business development and provide Indigenous Australians with more opportunities to participate in the economy.
The Australian Government has committed to increasing the representation of Indigenous employees across the Australian Public Service through the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy 2020–2024.
Beyond the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Australian Government provides a number of other Indigenous specific employment programs to promote employment opportunities and career pathways for Indigenous Australians.
The Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP) is an integrated entry level employment and development program. Participants are provided employment and concurrently, provided professional and personal development opportunities to enhance their capability to undertake a career within the Australian Public Service.
The Indigenous Apprenticeships Program is an entry-level program designed to provide Indigenous Australians with a career in the Australian Public Service. It is a 12-month professional development program where participants undertake on-the-job learning, supplemented by formal accredited training. A Certificate IV or Diploma of Government helps to provide participants with a good understanding of government operations on which to build a lengthy and successful career.
In the aged care sector, the Indigenous Employment Initiative (IEI) Program subsidises the employment costs of Indigenous Australians providing non-clinical aged care services to older Indigenous Australians. It also subsidises accredited training to ensure Indigenous Australians providing these services have the necessary skills.
The Army Indigenous Development Program (AIDP) is for young Indigenous adults that want to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF) but who may be challenged by reading, writing or fitness. The AIDP is a five month program designed to bring candidates up to the standard required to commence the Army Recruit Course.
The Navy Indigenous Development Program is an Indigenous-specific development program for young Indigenous adults that want to join the ADF. The Navy works with Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) in support of the Closing the Gap strategy and the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan to provide education and training opportunities to young Indigenous candidates who may embark on a military career upon completion of the course, if they meet the required enlistment standard. Using DFR’s recruiting pipeline the program has a national reach.
State and territory examples
A trial of community-designed and community-delivered employment services in the Yarrabah (Queensland) community commenced on 2 July 2018, funded by the Australian Government. The design of services incorporates a broader assessment of barriers to job seekers gaining employment with referral to appropriate support services and development activities. The services are closely connected to increased economic development to maximise employment opportunities within Yarrabah.
‘Good Money’ is a Victorian Government initiative launched in 2012 to provide an integrated response to people experiencing financial exclusion, including access to no interest loans, low interest loans, budget management and financial counselling. It is a partnership model between the Victorian Government, Good Shepherd Microfinance and the National Australia Bank. The program has expanded into South Australia and Queensland. In addition to the ‘Good Money’ hubs, the Victorian Government also provides support to co-ordinate the No Interest Loans (NILs) Network. The network is a series of community service organisations that offer no interest loans to vulnerable community members.
Tharamba Bugheen: Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017–2026 is the Victorian Government’s initiative to provide targeted support to the Aboriginal business sector. Under Tharamba Bugheen, the Victorian Government has committed to a one per cent procurement target from 2019–20. Several other activities are also underway to further promote Aboriginal procurement, provide support to Aboriginal business owners and entrepreneurs, and provide training and employment linkage programs to support Aboriginal job-seekers.
Safety and justice
The initiatives listed below aim to support strengthening community capacity to address determinants of health to ensure the safety of Indigenous Australians.
Family safety and child protection
The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in April 2009, is an ambitious, long-term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children and aims to deliver a substantial and sustained reduction in levels of child abuse and neglect over time.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010‐2022 brings together the efforts of governments across the nation to make a real and sustained reduction in the levels of violence against women.
The Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children 2010–2022 sets out an ambitious but practical agenda to achieve change, by:
- improving existing initiatives
- addressing gaps in previous action plans
- providing a platform for future policy to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence.
This includes Indigenous-specific measures that will provide:
- more wrap-around and intensive case management for Indigenous women and their families experiencing violence
- prevention activities to support young people and adults develop healthy relationships
- continuation of important specific family violence and legal services
- opportunities to engage Indigenous women and girls in government and community-led decision-making processes as part of the second stage of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.
The Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has included delivery of a national apology, establishing a National Office for Child Safety; establishing a National Redress Scheme; developing principles for Child Safe Organisations; and a Commonwealth Child Safe Framework. While not Indigenous-specific, these measures will also impact Indigenous Australians.
The National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse is in development. The National Strategy was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and will consider child abuse in all settings including in institutions, within families, and online. The National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse will intersect with the National Strategy to deliver outcomes that will reduce further traumatisation of those living with past child sexual abuse, and work to prevent future harm. The selection process for establishing the National Centre is underway.
The Family Advocacy and Support Services are delivered by state legal aid commissions in family law court registries across Australia, and provide integrated duty lawyer and family violence support services to help vulnerable families. There are services targeted at Indigenous Australians in some locations.
The Australian Government provides funding for universal family law services under the Family Relationship Services Program to assist families, including Indigenous families who are experiencing separation.
Safe Places is part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. It aims to connect the work undertaken by governments, the community sector and individuals to reduce violence against women and children. Safe places will provide funding for new or expanded emergency and crisis accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. This program will build up to 450 safe places and assist up to 6,500 women and children escaping domestic and family violence per year.
The Northern Territory Remote Child and Family Safety Program funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy provides place-based support services to vulnerable children and their families in the Northern Territory and aims to improve community safety without the need for formal child protection interventions.
The Women’s Safety Package: Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships provide legal assistance and wrap-around case management supports to assist clients in accessing other support services as needed.
The Crisis Payment is a one off payment available to income support recipients who are experiencing severe financial hardship due to extreme circumstances such as domestic violence, or having been recently released from prison.
The Intensive Family Support Services is a home and community based family support service offered to highly vulnerable families living in selected communities in the Northern Territory and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia. The program provides practical parenting education and support to parents and caregivers in their communities and homes for approximately 12 months, to help them improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their children.
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy’s Safety and Wellbeing Program seeks to enhance Indigenous community safety and wellbeing by funding activities on five key outcome areas: safe and functional communities; improved individual and community health, wellbeing and resilience; violence reduction and victim support; reduced substance misuse and harm; and crime prevention, diversion and rehabilitation.
Stronger Communities for Children is a flexible place-based community development program that enables Indigenous Australians in communities to make decisions about funding allocated through the program for services and activities that create a safe and positive environment and contribute to the healthy development, educational attainment and employment outcomes of children, young people and families in their communities. It is currently operating in 10 remote Northern Territory locations.
The Wungurilwil Gapgapduir Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement, in Victoria, is guiding action from government, Indigenous communities and community service organisations to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children and young people in out-of-home care alongside working towards a future where all Aboriginal children and young people are safe and living in Aboriginal families and communities. Under this agreement, Victoria is gradually transitioning case management of Aboriginal children in care from government and non-Aboriginal organisations to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
In Victoria Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families is guiding work to create a future where Aboriginal people, families and communities live free from violence.
The following initiatives are designed to address the factors contributing to Indigenous Australians’ high rates of contact with the criminal justice system:
The National Strategic Framework for Legal Assistance 2015–20 promotes a unified and coordinated approach by governments and the legal assistance sector to enhance access to justice for people facing disadvantage in Australia, including Indigenous Australians, and helps focus finite resources towards areas of greatest legal need.
The National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-25 is a national partnership agreement between the Australian Government and all states and territories for Commonwealth funded legal assistance, which includes funding for services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
The Australian Government funds a number of initiatives through its Indigenous Advancement Strategy's Safety and Wellbeing Program designed to address the factors contributing to Indigenous Australians’ high rates of contact with the criminal justice system. These include funding of:
- crime prevention and diversion activities such as community night patrols
- services to support those in prison reintegrate into the community to help break the cycle of reoffending
- the established custody notification services to ensure all Indigenous Australians taken into police custody are provided with culturally appropriate health and welfare support and basic legal support.
The Australian Government is also working with states and territories to develop nationally comparable Indigenous offending and victimisation data sets that will assist with identifying areas of greatest need and significant trends. More evidence is required about what prevention strategies and interventions are effective in reducing victimisation, offending and reoffending, and consequent contact with the criminal justice system. There are also a number of gaps in evidence for youth justice supervision including the reasons for detention, factors contributing to the high rate of Indigenous youth supervision, children intersecting between the child protection and youth justice systems, tracking movement into adult detention, and the health of those under youth justice supervision.
State and territory youth justice agencies provide programs designed for Indigenous Australians focusing on family violence, alcohol and drug use, education and employment, counselling and family support.
Following the COAG Prison to Work Report, the Commonwealth Prison to Work Action Plan and jurisdictional Prison to Work Action Plans outline how each jurisdiction will respond to the 2016 Prison to Work Report to support Indigenous Australians transition from prison to employment.
The Time to Work Employment Service which assists Indigenous prisoners to better prepare them for their release from prison and improve the likelihood of connecting with post-release employment services, was also designed to address one of the findings from the COAG Prison to Work Report.
The Australian Government is funding a small pilot through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme to promote and improve access by Indigenous Australians to appropriate health care, immediately following their release from prison. It also funds preventative interventions aimed at reducing the burden that trauma has on Indigenous children.
The Assessing the Disability Needs of Indigenous Prisoners research project aims to examine methods and processes for identifying and assessing disability in Indigenous prisoners and ex‑prisoners across jurisdictions in Australia, including regional and remote areas.
State and territory example
In the Australian Capital Territory, the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services delivers standalone coordinated health care services to Indigenous Australian detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre, including GP mental health care plans, assessments and care planning for chronic conditions.
The Victorian Government continues its longstanding partnership with the Aboriginal Justice Caucus through Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja – Phase 4 of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement. The vision of Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja is for Aboriginal people to have access to a justice system that is shaped by self-determination, and protects and upholds their human, civil, legal and cultural rights to improve outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians in contact with the justice system.
In Victoria, work is ongoing to expand community-led self-determination initiatives state wide, such as the Aboriginal Community Justice Panels, the County Koori Courts model, a pilot model delivering a culturally-specific restorative justice response for Aboriginal young people, and the trial of Aboriginal community-justice reports.
While there have been improvements in overcrowding and home ownership for Indigenous households, housing outcomes for Indigenous Australians remain lower than for the wider community. The initiatives below aim to address housing availability, affordability and assistance:
In 2019, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments entered into a National Partnership on Remote Housing Northern Territory (NPRHNT) over five years (2018 to 2023). This NPRHNT aims to improve health by addressing overcrowding in 73 remote communities and Alice Springs town camps.
As part of transitioning responsibility for remote housing to states, the Australian Government made one off payments to Queensland of $5 million in 2019–20 and $100 million in 2020–21, Western Australia $121 million in 2018–19 and South Australia $37.5 million in 2018–19.
The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme is a joint initiative between the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Australian Army to improve health and living conditions in Aboriginal Communities.
The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement is an agreement between the Commonwealth and states and territory governments that provides funding to improve housing and homelessness outcomes for all Australians across the spectrum of housing needs, particularly those most in need.
The National Rental Affordability Scheme offers financial incentives to housing providers to build and rent dwellings for low and moderate income households at 80% of the market value rent.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute is a government funded research network that aims to inform and impact better housing, homelessness, cities and related urban outcomes, through the delivery and dissemination of relevant and authoritative research.
Reconnect is a community-based early intervention and prevention program for young people aged 12 to 18 years (or 12 to 21 years in the case of newly arrived youth) who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Delivered by community organisations who provide counselling, group work, mediation and practical support, services are free and available in metro, rural and remote areas and are located in every state and territory across Australia.
Commonwealth Rent Assistance is a supplement available to income support recipients and those receiving more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A who pay rent above a minimum threshold to a private landlord or a community housing provider.
Indigenous Business Australia’s Indigenous Home Ownership Program (IHOP) provides a low-deposit, low-priced home loan product to working Indigenous Australians aspiring to own their own home who face barriers to accessing mainstream finance. Most IHOP customers are Indigenous first home buyers in regional Australia.
State and territory examples
Three initiatives aimed at improving living conditions in Indigenous communities include:
- Housing for Health, in New South Wales
- Healthabitat, in South Australia
- Good Money, in Victoria / South Australia / Queensland
The Victorian Government funded Aboriginal Housing Victoria to lead the development of the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework—Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has A Home. The Framework aims to improve housing outcomes for all Aboriginal Victorians across the course of their lives.
Transport and injury prevention
Injury is a major cause of preventable death and disability in Australia. Whether intended or accidental, most physical injuries can be prevented by identifying their causes and removing or reducing people’s exposure to them.
A National Injury Prevention Strategy will be released in 2020. The National Injury Prevention Strategy will update and build on the National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan 2004–2014 and provide priorities and action plans to reduce the risk of injury. Priorities will include children and Indigenous Australians.
An objective of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 is to ensure Indigenous Australians have access to graduated driver licensing and to safe vehicles. Most jurisdictions have either specific licensing programs for remote areas or other assistance, such as mentoring and access to vehicles for learner drivers.
The supporting National Road Safety Action Plan for 2018–2020 includes measures to improve road safety in remote areas, with particular attention to tailored solutions for driver licensing, training and education, unlicensed driving, vehicle safety including use of seatbelts and child restraints, and speed management.
The Western Australian Department of Health has funded patient transport officers and patient journey officers in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and local health services to ensure that Aboriginal patients have adequate transport to medical appointments at all levels of the health system (primary, secondary and tertiary).