Indigenous employment in Australia is set to receive more than $860 million from the federal government as part of a grant funding initiative.
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) aims to get more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into work and education, as well as provide safer communities in which to live.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said nearly 1,000 organisations would receive funding for projects throughout Australia under the IAS program.
“Our approach through this funding round has provided an opportunity to ensure the large sums of taxpayers’ funds invested in Indigenous affairs are directed to support key objectives and focus on achieving outcomes,” he stated.
His comments followed the release of the latest Closing the Gap report, which highlighted a number of areas where more needs to be done to reduce the disparity between opportunities for Indigenous people and other Australians.
Among the issues that require attention is Indigenous employment, with Mr Scullion saying the report suggested a new approach may be necessary to tackle the problem.
“For the first time in decades, we have had a holistic look at the myriad of services and projects being funded to ensure future funding is geared towards achieving change on the ground that improves the lives of individuals and communities,” he added.
The IAS was introduced last year, replacing over 150 separate schemes. One of the key aims of the initiative is to boost the number of Indigenous Australians in work and foster Indigenous businesses.
Mr Scullion stated that decisions on grants are made very carefully in an effort to give much-needed support to organisations and employees. Companies that applied for funding were informed last week whether or not they received approval.
“In some cases organisations have been funded to continue delivering the services they currently are; in other cases, they have been funded for a mix of existing and new projects,” the minister explained.
“Although some proposals have been rejected, as is usual with such significant funding rounds, my department will be speaking with organisations about other potential opportunities to deliver services that improve the lives of First Australians.”
In keeping with this, Mr Scullion said a significant effort has been made to ensure Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet staff are located nearer to the communities with which they work to ensure funded schemes are successful.
By Leanne Macnamara, Public Affairs Coordinator