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Funding cut signals the destruction of Aboriginal life in Australia

  • 07 April 2015

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion seems to be presiding over the destruction of Aboriginal life in Australia

Aboriginal Communities have very recently been informed about the annual  allocations to enable the running of Aboriginal Communities given under what is now known as the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The stated aims of the IAS is named by the Coalition Government in the terms of get ting children to school, adults into work and building safe communities.

But in reality – as one of the Aboriginal administrators of a well established regional Aboriginal community in SA explained to me the day after the shock of receiving the IAS funding news, the policy and practice can only be assumed to be about making both regional and remote communities unsustainable. ‘If they don’t fund the communities, it is a given that they will become unsustainable.’

In SA the situation is made even more precarious by the unresolved situation of the water, power and other essential services known as MUNS funding.  Back in November 2014, the Minister called on the South Australian Government to take responsibility for servicing its Aboriginal residents, just as it does for non-Aboriginal residents.

In a clever media release, he disguised his Government’s own abrogation of duty for funding Aboriginal communities’ essential services, known as MUNS funding, by attempting to switch this, their long held responsibility, to the State Governments. The SA government refused to accept this role.

In contrast, WA had accepted a one off $90 million for their ‘transfer’ grant and consequently announced 150 communities would be closed down. This has received much publicity, and the South Australian situation is much less known.

The SA government, having refused the original one off $10 million ‘transfer’ offer as totally inadequate, continues to call on the Federal Government to re-assume these responsibilities held since 1973.

Some Aboriginal communities in South Australia are large settlements, larger than some small mainstream country towns and with a great deal of infrastructure like schools and health clinics. All are presently facing a ‘future’ with no funding to ensure water supplies, power, sewerage and sanitation, airstrip maintenance where this applies for emergency hospital evacuation – no funding for every possible essential service; services which are taken for granted by other Australians.

Late in March, the revelation came to various communities in South Australia that this desperate situation is not the last word. In 2014 the Minister announced the Abbott Government’s new framework for