Aboriginal funding faces million dollar cuts

2018/19: The state governments imposes million dollar cuts to Aboriginal funding.
2018/19: The state governments imposes million dollar cuts to Aboriginal funding.

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) is calling upon South Australian Premier Steven Marshall to overturn the proposed million dollar cuts to Indigenous funding.

The government announced it would spend just over $12 million on Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation in 2018/19, a reduction of last years $17.8 million.

The budget proposed restructure to the Marni Wodli Youth Accommodation Services, cuts to SA Native Title Services (SANTS) and defunding of the Stolen Generations Community Reparation Scheme.

The government will also abolish the Aboriginal Treaty commissioner and discontinue the Aboriginal Regional Authority Policy that was set up to formally recognise Aboriginal governance structures.

Chair of the ALRM board, Sandra Saunders, from Wangary, said the cuts were ‘disappointing’ and ‘not good enough’.

“There has been a major problem in Port Lincoln for Aboriginal programs, with limited funds for youth services,” she said.

“It’s my understanding that once footy ends, there isn’t many clubs for young people to burn off their energy so we need more youth programs there.”

Ms Saunders said cuts to Aboriginal funding would “greatly impact” the community and that she was disappointed they were made before promised consultation with Indigenous communities.

“Steven Marshall is the head of Aboriginal Affairs, so what’s he doing and who is he talking too?” she said.

“It’s not good enough.”

Ms Saunders said cuts to SANTS and the treaty commissioner would leave current or planned claims with a sense of uncertainty.

The government will discontinue their yearly $550,000 grant funding to SANTS.

Shadow treasurer Stephen Mulligan said that the cuts to SANTS funding was of concern.

“They’re mean spirited cuts,” he said.

“The claimants and processes process will be slowed down, which will make it much more difficult to make an agreement on native title claims.”

The government’s ‘alternative approach’ aims to engage Aboriginal people in a plan for education, child protection, health and jobs.

Over four years $1.3 million will be spent on an Aboriginal children and young people commissioner.

A further $60.0 million will fund construction in 2020 for the proposed National Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery.