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What does the Budget hold for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health?

The Federal Budget includes many initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing, and signals a commitment to growing the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sector and First Nations health workforce.

For implementation of the Uluru Statement, it includes $50.2 million for the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for the referendum to enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, and $5.8 million to start work on establishing an independent Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement-making and truth-telling.

A highlight is $22.5 million to build a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence at Waminda in Nowra, New South Wales. The Birthing Centre, to open in 2025-26, will provide culturally safe care and wrap around support services for First Nations families during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

The announcement was welcomed by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM).

“This investment will go a long way to providing appropriate, self-determined, Culturally Safe care and holistic services for First Nations women, their babies and their families,” said CEO Professor Roianne West in a statement responding to the Budget.

“Investment in the unique, strengths-based work of Waminda, is an essential step towards recognising the need for tailored quality First Nations maternity services and to bring about improved health outcomes in maternity care. It is our hope that this service will lead the way in the establishment of many suitably tailored birthing on country services, wherever needed, in the future,” she said.

In a statement, Waminda acknowledged Minister Linda Burney MP and MP Fiona Phillips for their endorsement of Waminda’s vision and plans for the Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence and “their willingness to listen, support and be led by Aboriginal women in our community”.

“The construction of this Birthing Centre will be a monumental testament to years of dedication from strong women in the South Coast Community,” said the statement.

Melanie Briggs said: “It’s about reclaiming the birth space for our mums and our bubs, our aunties and our elders, who have fought so hard for us to birth in a place and we know is safe and we know our families can be a part of. Waminda is a big driver in the BOC space, especially when it comes to self-determination and our governance for our people.”

Other initiatives include:

$314.5 million to expand Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services nationwide.

$164.3 million to deliver 17 critical First Nations health infrastructure projects across the country. They will provide modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations, and to build capacity in targeting chronic disease treatment and rehabilitation.

Up to 500 First Nations health workers will be trained through a $54.3 million investment in the First Nations Health Workers Traineeship Program, led by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). Trainees will undertake
Certificate III or IV accredited training as First Nations health workers or practitioners. Trainees will receive on-the-job experience and mentoring in local ACCHS.

$14.2 million to double the current funding to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease in high-risk communities over the next three years.

$45 million for 30 four-chair dialysis units to provide better renal services across Australia.

$800,000 to improve the care of patients with chronic diseases to be delivered by the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service and the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Aboriginal Medical Service.

Wilcannia, White Cliffs and Menindee in New South Wales will benefit from $1.9 million to purchase dialysis treatment buses to deliver care closer to home.

$14.1 million to place First Nations educators in 60 primary schools to teach First Nations languages and provide greater cultural understanding.

$33.7 million to make early childhood education and care more accessible for Indigenous families, with access to 36 subsidised hours per fortnight.

$190.0 million over four years to help First Nations controlled and Community Sector Organisations (CSO) to maintain quality services in light of rising costs.

Housing and justice

$25 million for housing and essential services on Northern Territory homelands as an immediate boost, with a further $75 million allocated for 2023-24.

$81.5 million to invest in up to 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives across Australia and establish an independent national justice reinvestment unit as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission, the largest funding package in justice reinvestment ever committed by the Commonwealth.

$13.5 million in additional funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) to increase its capacity to provide culturally appropriate legal assistance in coronial inquiries.

$1 million to build greater capacity in the peak body, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) to provide leadership across the Indigenous legal sector.

$3 million to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, and the FVPLS providers who deliver legal assistance and non-legal support to victim-survivors of family and domestic violence and sexual assault.

$14 million will be delivered over four years as part of the Government’s Central Australia Plan to deliver immediate and medium-term crime prevention and community safety programs in Central Australia.

Caring for Country

The highly successful Indigenous Protected Areas program will be extended beyond 2023, and 10 new Indigenous Protected Areas created by 2028.

$83.8 million will be invested to develop and deploy microgrid technology across First Nations communities to increase access to cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy.

Other initiatives include $2 million for an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples to take Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and experiences to the world.

Budget papers also said funding will be provided for a trial program as a first step to replacing the Community Development Program.Further reading

Read more in the National Indigenous Australians Agency Budget statement and the Ministers’ media statement.

See Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet


Save the dates

Register here to join these post-budget panel discussions with Croakey contributors:
  • 5pm AEDT, 8 November: Health policy and the Federal Budget
  • 5pm AEDT, 15 November: Health in All Policies and the Federal Budget

More details to come closer to the time.


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