Funding cut to peak group a major blow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

General, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News, Opinion article written on the 10 May 2016

Today’s revelation that the key national representative body of Indigenous Australians will no longer be funded by the Turnbull Government is a blow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities across the country, Oxfam said today.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said Oxfam’s work in Indigenous communities and in supporting indigenous advocacy around Australia had highlighted again and again the importance of a national body to represent indigenous Australia.

“Oxfam Australia is extremely disappointed in the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs declaration today that the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples will not receive Australian Government funding despite Congress’s key role in representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities,” Dr Szoke said.

“This couldn’t’ come at a worse time – Aboriginal affairs are in a state of crisis. In all social indicators, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to rate as among the most disadvantaged people in Australia.

“Congress has led the way in campaigning to address the appalling health inequalities that see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die 10 years younger than non-Indigenous people and in developing policy to Change the Record on current incarceration rates where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 13 times likelier to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous people.

“One of the reasons for the constant crises in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs has been the failure of engagement between the Turnbull and Abbott Governments and peak organisations in the sector.

“When it comes to representing the views of Indigenous people in Australia Congress is a key player because it is independent and represents local, state and national bodies as well as individuals.

“Ripping the funding out of this peak organisation shows the Turnbull Coalition Government has little respect for the international principle of self-determination.”

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