Thursday 21 December 2017

Federal Government must listen to First Peoples in Closing the Gap ‘Refresh’

The Close the Gap campaign is deeply concerned at reports that the Federal Government is making an 85 per cent cut to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing. This cut will see previously committed funding from the Federal government drop from $776 million over two years to just $100 million.

It is particularly concerning that the Federal government is backing away from its commitments to address the critical shortfalls in remote housing during the current Closing the Gap Strategy refresh process.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and fellow Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign, Dr June Oscar, is worried about the impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote communities.

“It is well established that social determinants, including and especially housing, have a major impact on the health of our people” said Dr Oscar.

“As we have said too many times before, you can’t cut your way to closing the gap” said Mr Rod Little, Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

The Prime Minister’s 2017 Closing the Gap Report acknowledged that ‘the condition of housing… is of concern’ with at least ‘18 per cent of Indigenous households living in houses of an unacceptable standard’.

“The Federal Government must not shirk its responsibility to work with States and Territories to address this issue,” Mr Little said.

"The Closing the Gap 'refresh' is critical for our People. We are looking for the Federal, State and Territory Governments to work with us, and listen to our views on how to take this forward, not make unilateral decisions about what will and won't be funded." said Dr Oscar.

The Close the Gap Campaign calls on the Federal Government to reverse its decision and listen to First Peoples as part of the Closing the Gap Strategy Refresh process underway. There needs to be more investment, not less and the Remote Housing Strategy should not be abandoned without a clear plan to address this critical priority.