10
Nov
07

Funding Indigenous affairs in a federalist structure

The Australian reports that NSW Premier Morris Iemma has written to the Prime Minister saying that the Federal government is investing 85% of funding to remote and regional areas in other States (particularly Northern Territory), and that this is ‘largely excluding Aboriginal people in NSW, the bulk of whom reside in urban and regional centres’.  

Could it be that Aboriginal people in regional and remote areas require more investment in terms of achieving equitable services to that of urban Aboriginal people? 

Further, could it be that the capacity of smaller jurisdictions with larger Aboriginal populations to invest in solutions be lessor than larger jurisdictions with smaller Aboriginal populations as a ratio to the total population?

I understand that the mechanisms for distributing the GST revenue takes into account factors relating to the questions above, but the challenges now confronting Indigenous affairs requires investment across the board.  The problems are socio-catalystic and, if left untreated, manifest into larger problems.  I would argue that there is a clear cost-benefit ratio for increased funds across Federal and State/Territory jurisdictions, and that this needs to be explored (the Territory and Federal government are doing this, I am yet to see other jurisdictions and their commitment).   

What is dissapointing in this debate is the absence of discussion points around the relationship between Indigenous policy funds as income for Indigenous peoples and the opportunity to integrate greater economic responsibility, particularly for those structurally detached from labour market supply. 

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