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6 Things That Have Happened To Indigenous Australia Since Last Budget

Aboriginal organisations are still reeling from last year’s funding cuts.

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1. Half a billion dollars cut.

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The 2014 - 2015 budget cut $534 million dollars over a five year period from Indigenous programs funded by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the cuts would stop money being wasted and duplication of services.

2. Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

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In lieu of massive funding cuts, the federal government set up the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

Organisations wanting funding under the IAS must apply in competitive funding rounds under five different categories- Jobs, Land the Economy, Children and Schooling, Safety and Wellbeing, Culture and Capability and Remote Australia Strategies.

The government has committed $4.9 billion to the IAS over the next four years. Five-thousand organisations applied for funding under the first round and only 964 were given money.

A report to the Senate earlier this year revealed that almost half of the successful applicants were non-Indigenous organisations.

3. Frontline services compromised.

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Some of the organisations whose funds were cut or reduced say the changes are already having detrimental effect on already disadvantaged communities.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service (CAALAS) received a fraction of the what they had applied for. The CAALAS say the future of their youth justice advocacy program is in jeopardy after failing to receive enough money to fund a single staff member to run it. The program works with young offenders, the majority of them Aboriginal in Alice Springs.

Amity Community Services in Darwin had previously received funding from the federal Government which was cut after last year's budget. Their $480,000 funding application to the IAS to run a program aimed at helping petrol sniffing and drug and alcohol abuse was denied. The CEO said they now needed to fire four staff.

The Goldfields Land and Sea Council (GLSC), in southern Western Australia did not receive any of the money they requested under the IAS. The GLSC wanted the money to invest in an Aboriginal ranger program.

4. Desperate plea to restore original funding.

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The Close the Gap Campaign has called on the federal government to restore the half-a-billion slashed from last year's budget.

They want funding for Aboriginal health programs quarantined from the 2015–16 budget. Close the Gap Co-chair Kristie Parker said that, “evidence shows that health is critical to achieving better education and employment outcomes. An investment commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is an investment in the social and economic wellbeing of our communities.”

5. Minister confident on no cuts.

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Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion last week said that there would be no funding cuts made to his portfolio in this year's budget.

Senator Scullion told ABC News, "There won't be any cuts in my portfolio and I said that a very long time ago," and that, "we managed to find some efficiency dividends in our portfolio. Those efficiency dividends are going to make the portfolio tick a lot better and deliver better outcomes."

6. Boarding schools will get windfall in budget.

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The Minister for Education Christopher Pyne announced last week that private boarding schools who enrol more than 50 students from remote communities will receive a windfall of up to $5m dollars over a two year period to help them with costs. Mr Pyne said the cash boost will come out of tomorrow's budget.

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