Closing the Gap 2016 - Australian Government programmes and initiatives

The 2016 Closing the Gap report shows, as in previous years, that there has been mixed levels of success in meeting the targets set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2008.

The results outlined in this report reiterate that while these targets may be ambitious, striving to meet them is essential in building a robust and healthy Australia.

The targets focus on the areas of health, education and employment, which are recognised as the key drivers for success in addressing the significant disparity in the health, wellbeing and prosperity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy, funded through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, consolidates the many different Indigenous policies and programmes that were delivered by the Australian Government into five overarching programmes, making it easier for organisations delivering local services.

The underlying causes of disadvantage that Indigenous Australians face are complex and the Australian Government has set three clear priorities to make sure efforts are effectively targeted.

  • The positive impact that education has on the future success of individuals, families and communities is clear. Children who go to school have better life outcomes.
  • Employment, economic development and social participation improve the lives of families and communities. The right conditions and incentives need to be in place for Indigenous Australians to participate in the economy and broader society.
  • Growing up in a healthy and safe home and community is essential for families to thrive and reach their full potential. In particular, the violence that too many women and children face must be addressed.

Improvements in the three priority areas are also facilitated through support for activities that strengthen the capability of Indigenous Australians and organisations. The flexibility of the IAS ensures that Indigenous Australians are actively involved in the development and delivery of local solutions.

(note: Better Start to Life, RSAS, CDP, the COAG investigation into Indigenous land administration and use, and the Women's Safety Package are all referenced in the overview. The main text for each of these is contained in the chapters).

Chapter One - Infancy and Early Childhood

Better Start to Life

Funded under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme by the Department of Health, the Better Start to Life approach supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and maternal health programmes in the critical early years of life. It includes:

  • New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services: that provides funding for maternal, child and family health services in a primary health care setting. Services are designed to be flexible and responsive to local community needs.
  • Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program (ANFPP): a nurse-led home visiting program that supports pregnant women to improve their own health and the health of their baby. The ANFPP also provides valuable support and advice to mothers to help with the baby's development in their early years. 

Families and Communities Programme

The Families and Communities Programme, funded by the Department of Social Services, aims to support families, improve children's wellbeing and increase participation of vulnerable people in community life to enhance family and community functioning. Specific activities funded under the Programme include:

  • Children and Parenting Support services these services have a primary focus on children aged 0-12 years and provide support to children and families based on an early intervention and prevention approach. The services funded vary but include playgroups, parenting courses, home visits, school readiness and peer support groups.
  • Communities for Children Facilitating Partners (CfC FP) aimed to deliver positive and sustainable outcomes for children and families in disadvantaged communities. CfC FPs facilitate a whole of community approach to support and enhance early childhood development and wellbeing for children from birth to 12 years, but may include children up to age 18 years. Services may include parenting support, early learning and literacy programmes, group peer support, home visiting services, community events, case management and other supports to promote child wellbeing.

Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a two year, home-based parenting and early learning programme, funded by the Department of Social Services, which enables parents of four to five‑year‑olds to be their child's first teacher. With the support of a home tutor, parents read, play with and undertake educational activities with their child for around 15 minutes per day, five days per week, over the two years that the family is engaged in the programme.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Children and Schooling

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is providing $222.3 million in funding in 2015‑16 to support activities which nurture and educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth and adults to improve pathways to prosperity and wellbeing. This includes improving family and parenting support; early childhood development, care and education; school education; youth engagement and transition; and higher education. The programme has a critical focus on increased school attendance and improved educational outcomes which lead to employment, including initiatives such as:

  • Stronger Communities for Children a flexible initiative that works with ten remote Northern Territory communities to identify and implement local, integrated services and activities that create a safe and positive environment for children and families.

Jobs for Families Child Care package

The Australian Government's Jobs for Families Child Care package is an investment of around $40 billion over four years to provide a simpler, more affordable, more flexible and more accessible child care system. The Package includes:

  • Additional Child Care Subsidy to provide extra support for vulnerable and disadvantaged families to access child care.
  • Community Child Care Fund, which provides funding to child care services to reduce barriers to access, particularly for disadvantaged or vulnerable families and communities. It includes $10 million a year for the integration of child care, maternal and child health, and family support services in a number of Indigenous communities experiencing disadvantage, as recommended by Andrew Forrest in his review of Indigenous Jobs and Training - Creating Parity.
  • Inclusion Support Programme which will assist mainstream services to improve their capacity and capability to address barriers to participation for children with additional needs.

National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education 2016 and 2017

Under the National Partnership the Australian Government will provide $840 million as a contribution to states and territories to maintain universal access in 2016 and 2017. This funding supports participation by all children in a preschool programme for 600 hours a year, in the year before full-time school, delivered by an early childhood teacher who meets National Quality Framework requirements. The National Partnership includes a focus on improving participation by Indigenous and vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and also supports participation in all settings, including Long Day Care centres.

Chapter 2 - Education

Australian Apprenticeship Support Network

The Australian Government, through the Department of Education and Training is investing up to $200 million annually in the Apprenticeship Network to make it easier for employers to recruit, train and retain apprentices and better support individuals to succeed in the proven earning and learning pathway apprenticeships provide.

A total of 11 Apprenticeship Network providers are delivering support services to employers and Australian Apprentices from more than 400 locations nationally, including in rural and remote areas.

Australian School-based Apprenticeships

An Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASBA) is an Australian Apprenticeship which is undertaken part‑time while the Australian Apprentice is at school. ASBAs are funded by the Department of Education and Training. ASBAs are supported through the Apprenticeship Network.

Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools Programme

The Flexible literacy for remote primary schools programme funded by the Department of Education and Training, supports the improvement of literacy results for children in remote primary schools with the introduction of two alphabetic teaching approaches: Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction.

  • Direct Instruction - the teacher decides the learning intentions and success criteria, makes them transparent to the students, demonstrates by modelling, evaluates if they understand what they had been told by checking for understanding, and re-telling them what they had been told by tying it all together with closure.
  • Explicit Direct Instruction - the teacher focuses on explanations, demonstrations, feedback and practice until the student is proficient in the skill.

These teaching methods have a proven record in lifting standards in disadvantaged, low-performing schools.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Children and Schooling

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is providing $222.3 million in funding in 2015 to support activities which nurture and educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth and adults to improve pathways to prosperity and wellbeing. This includes improving family and parenting support; early childhood development, care and education; school education; youth engagement and transition; and higher education. The programme has a critical focus on increased school attendance and improved educational outcomes which lead to employment, including initiatives such as:

  • The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) developed to lift school attendance levels in remote communities, where attendance rates are often very low. Funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), RSAS is a flexible, community based initiative where local community members are employed as School Attendance Supervisors and Officers to support families and communities to get children to school every day.

MySchool

My School was developed to provide readily accessible information about the almost 10,000 schools across Australia. One of the features of My School is its focus on enabling fair comparisons to be made between schools with the intention of celebrating success or identifying areas for improvement. The website is also an additional information source for parents to make informed decisions about their child's education.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy (the Strategy) provides a framework to guide jurisdictions in developing and implementing localised policies and actions to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also outlines the first of a series of national collaborative actions across seven priority areas. Recognising the different roles of governments, the Strategy includes actions that Education Ministers will take together to complement the efforts of individual jurisdictions.

National Partnership Agreement on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory

From 2012-2015 the National Partnership Agreement on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory aimed to provide additional support to the NT to improve outcomes in Indigenous health, education, child and family wellbeing, community safety, employment and housing.

The Schooling Implementation Plan under this Agreement includes funding to expand the Families as First Teachers programme from the current 21 sites to 32 sites by 2017.

Students First

Students First is the Government's approach to improve education outcomes and schools for all Australian students. The Government is working with state and territory governments to focus on the key areas of school autonomy, quality teachers, an effective curriculum, and increased parental engagement. The approach includes a strong emphasis on ensuring schools' policy and programmes improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Chapter 3 - Employment

Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy

The Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy was launched jointly by Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, and Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, on 11 November 2015.

The Strategy aims to build Indigenous employment in the Commonwealth public sector, and sets out actions agencies can take to help them meet the Government's target of 3% Indigenous representation by 2018. Progress towards the targets will be reported annually by agency from 2016.

Emissions Reduction Fund

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), funded by the Department of the Environment, provides incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy, including savanna fire management.

Empowering YOUth Initiatives

As part of the 2015-16 Growing Jobs and Small Business Package, the Australian Government, has invested $55.2 million over four years in the Empowering YOUth Initiatives. Administered by the Department of Employment, Empowering YOUth Initiatives encourage not-for-profit and non-government organisations to run innovative initiatives for young people to prevent long-term unemployment, remove barriers to employment and assist in sustaining employment.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, aged 15 and 24 (inclusive) who are long-term unemployed or at risk of long-term welfare dependency, are one of the priority groups for round one funding for Empowering YOUth Initiatives.

Green Army

Over three years, the Green Army, funded through the Department of the Environment, aims to engage, train and deploy 15,000 young people (aged 17-24 years) through a voluntary 20-26 week programme to help local community deliver environment and heritage conservation outcomes across Australia. In June 2015, 15% of participants identified as Indigenous.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Jobs, Land and Economy (JLEP)

JLEP provides funding to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of working age with real and sustainable employment.

  • Employment Parity Initiative aims to increase the number of large Australian companies with a workforce reflective of the size of the Indigenous population. Specifically, the Initiative aims to get 20,000 more Indigenous job seekers into jobs by 2020.
  • Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTECs) connect Indigenous job seekers with guaranteed jobs and bring together the support services necessary to secure long term employment for disadvantaged job seekers.
  • Community Development Programme (CDP) The Government has reformed the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme (RJCP) to deliver better opportunities for remote job-seekers and foster stronger economic and social outcomes in remote Australia.

jobactive

The jobactive programme is aimed to get more Australians into work. Funded through the Department of Employment, it connects job seekers with employers and is delivered by a network of jobactive providers in over 1,700 locations across Australia.

National Environmental Science Programme

The National Environmental Research Program (NERP), funded by the Department of the Environment, provides around $20 million each year for environmental research to improve our capacity to understand, manage and conserve Australia's unique biodiversity and ecosystems. The programme has now been amalgamated with the Australian Climate Change Science Programme to form the National Environmental Science Programme.

National Landcare Programme

The Australian Government National Landcare Programme (NLP), administered by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture will invest $1 billion over four years to help drive sustainable agriculture as well as supporting the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of Australia's natural environment.

Chapter 4 - Economic Development

Regional Aviation Access Programme

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development provides targeted support for aerodrome infrastructure and air services to remote areas where they are not commercially viable through the Regional Aviation Access Programme. This includes:

COAG Investigation into Indigenous land administration and use

The Investigation provided an opportunity to focus all governments' attention on how Indigenous land administration systems and processes can effectively support Indigenous land owners and native title holders to leverage their land assets for economic development.

The Investigation further identified that Indigenous land administration systems are in a period of transition from a focus on recognition of rights to the use of rights for economic development.

The Investigation's final report sets out a cohesive policy direction for governments to support Indigenous peoples' use of their rights in land and waters for economic development.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Jobs, Land and Economy (JLEP)

JLEP provides support to connect working age Indigenous Australians with real and sustainable jobs, including ensuring remote jobseekers participate in activities and gain experience that builds work-readiness and contributes to the broader community, fosters Indigenous business and assists Indigenous Australians to generate economic and social benefits from natural and cultural assets.

Indigenous Language and Arts

The Indigenous Languages and Arts programme, funded by the Department of Communication and the Arts, helps support people to keep cultural identity strong by providing funding to:

  • revive and maintain languages;
  • support employment and career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language workers; and
  • support communities to deliver diverse arts projects that showcase, protect and encourage participation in traditional and contemporary Indigenous artistic expression.

In 2015-16, the Australian Government is providing $22 million to support the revival and maintenance of Indigenous languages and the development of arts projects.

Indigenous Procurement Policy

The Australian Government has committed to increase the proportion of its annual $39 billion dollar procurement budget to benefit Indigenous businesses and increase employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a target of 3 per cent of Commonwealth contracts with Indigenous suppliers by 2019-20.

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs)

Indigenous Protected Areas, funded by the Department of the Environment, deliver cost-effective environmental, cultural, social, health and wellbeing and economic benefits to Indigenous communities. As well as protecting biodiversity and cultural heritage into the future, Indigenous Protected Areas provide employment, education and training opportunities for Indigenous people in remote areas.

Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support

The Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support programme, administered by the Department of Communications and the Arts, aims to support a professional, strong and ethical Indigenous visual arts industry, with strong participation by, and employment for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The programme contributes to the operations of around 80 Indigenous-owned art centres which are at the heart of Australia's internationally renowned Indigenous visual art movement, as well as a number of marketing events, regional hubs and industry service organisations. Together, these organisations enable the development, production and marketing of Indigenous visual art, supporting more than 7,000 Indigenous artists and providing professional opportunities for over 300 Indigenous arts workers, most in remote communities.

Mobile Black Spot Programme

The Department of Communication and the Arts is funding the Mobile Black Spot Programme to improve mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia.

National Broadband Network

The National Broadband Network (NBN) will give all Australians access to high-speed broadband using a mix of technologies to promote an innovative and competitive communications sector and to make digital technologies and communications services better for everyone.

Roads: Infrastructure Investment

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development funds a number of projects to build, maintain and upgrade road infrastructure to boost economic growth and prosperity, increase productivity and support thousands of new jobs. These include a number of individual projects, including:

  • the Roads to Recovery Programme
  • Outback Way
  • Cape York Regional Package

The Australian Government has also committed $100 million to the Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund in order to make targeted upgrades to key roads necessary for transporting cattle. This will underpin the future viability of the cattle industry which has long been a pillar of the northern economy.

Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia

Under the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the Australian Government has committed an initial investment of $1.2 billion towards measures to unlock the north's potential across six key areas: simpler land arrangements to support investment; developing the north's water resources; growing the north as a business, trade and investment gateway; investing in infrastructure to lower business and household costs; reducing barriers to employing people; and improving governance.

The White Paper includes a Northern Australia Transport Package to build and make better use of transport and infrastructure, comprising a $600 million roads package for the Northern Australia Roads Programme, $5 million for cross jurisdictional freight rail analyses and $100 million for the Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme.

The proposed objective of the Northern Australia Roads Package is to fund high priority projects in northern Australia essential to the movement of people and freight in order to support the North's economic development. While the Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund[HR1]  aims to make targeted upgrades to key roads necessary for transporting cattle and improving the resilience of cattle supply chains, this programme will underpin the future viability of the cattle industry which has long been a pillar of the northern economy.

Specialised Indigenous Ranger programme

The Specialised Indigenous Ranger programme, funded by the Department of the Environment under the Reef Trust, aims to improve marine conservation, particularly for dugongs and turtles, along the Far North Queensland coast. Under the guidance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, over 20 Indigenous rangers have commenced formal training in Certificate IV in Government (Statutory Compliance) to increase their skills and confidence in undertaking compliance activities as part of their ranger duties. Successful participants in the training will be eligible to hold Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Inspectors status, and help bolster efforts by Indigenous rangers and traditional owners of the Reef to reduce the threats of illegal hunting, poaching and marine debris. The programme is also supporting Indigenous communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait to ensure the traditional harvesting of dugongs and turtles remains sustainable, through community based management plans.

Chapter 5 - Healthy Lives

Disability Employment Service (DES)

Through Disability Employment Services, the Department of Social Services provides support to job seekers with disability, injury or health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find and keep a job.

Greater Northern Australia Regional Training Network (GNARTN)

GNARTN was established in 2011 as a cross-jurisdictional network incorporating the areas above the Tropic of Capricorn in QLD and WA and all of the NT. The role of the GNARTN is to drive collaboration, advocacy and support health workforce initiatives across northern Australia. The Northern Australia Indigenous Health Workforce Network is a GNARTN initiative to provide a vehicle to identify clinical placement capacity within Aboriginal Health Services and for the development of an Indigenous Health Workforce.

Indigenous Australians' Health Programme

Funded by the Department of Health, the Indigenous Australians' Health Programme, which commenced on 1 July 2014, consolidated four previously existing funding streams: primary health care funding, child, maternal and family health programmes, the Health Implementation Plan of the former Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory National Partnership Agreement in the Northern Territory (Health) (now known as Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment) and programmes covered by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chronic Disease Fund.

The following themes comprise the Programme:

  • Primary Health Care Services;
  • Improving Access to Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;
  • Targeted Health Activities;
  • Capital Works; and
  • Governance and System Effectiveness.

Medicare programme

Medicare provides access to medical and hospital services for all Australians residents and certain categories of visitors to Australia.

Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023

The Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (the Implementation Plan), developed by the Department of Health, is an evidence-based policy framework designed to guide policies and programmes to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next decade. The Implementation Plan adopts a systems approach to identifying and responding to local needs across the life course.

There are seven domains: health systems effectiveness; maternal health and parenting; childhood health and development; adolescent and youth health; healthy adults; healthy ageing; and social and cultural determinants of health.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (the Health Plan) was developed to provide an overarching framework which builds links with major Commonwealth health activities and identifies areas of focus to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (the Health Plan) was developed to provide an overarching framework which builds links with major Commonwealth health activities and identifies areas of focus to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The Implementation Plan for the Health Plan sets out the action the Australian Government will take to make the health system more comprehensive, culturally safe and effective. It has a strong focus on prevention as well as supporting local and regional responses to identified needs.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS is a new way of providing individualised support for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers. The scheme will start being rolled out from 2016 to support over 460,000 Australians with disability.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

The PBS provides timely, reliable and affordable access to cost-effective medicines for Australians. Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions. Most of the listed medicines are dispensed by pharmacists and used by patients at home. Additionally, the PBS Co-payment Measure (the Measure), one of the measures in the Australian Government's Indigenous Australians' Health Programme, improves access to PBS medicines by providing co-payment relief. The Measure will provide $30.9 million in funding for the 2015-16 year.

Primary Health Networks

31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) became operational nationally on 1 July 2015, with the key objectives of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, and improving coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. The Australian Government has agreed to six key priorities for targeted work by PHNs including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Supported Wage System

The Supported Wage System, funded through the Department of Social Services, allows employers to pay a productivity-based wage for people with disability that matches an independently assessed productivity rate.

Chapter 6 - Safe, Healthy Communities

Cashless Debit Card Trial

The Australian Government is trialling a new way of delivering welfare payments through a cashless debit card, which will look and operate like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol, to gamble or withdraw cash. In addition to the card, the Government will invest in improving and increasing support services for the community in trial sites.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Safety and Wellbeing

Through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – Safety and Wellbeing programme, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is working with organisations across Australia to improve community safety. This includes:

  • reducing substance misuse and harm – through the delivery of alcohol and other drug treatment services and the roll out of low aromatic fuel;
  • crime prevention, diversion and rehabilitation through the delivery of  prisoner rehabilitation and other justice-related activities; 
  • violence reduction and victim support through the provision of legal services and family safety activities particularly for women and children; 
  • improved wellbeing and resilience activities including better connections to family and community, and initiatives that enhance social participation or reduce antisocial behaviour through social and emotional wellbeing counselling activities, including Link Up services; and
  • creating safe and functional environments through community night patrols.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy - Jobs, Land and Economy (JLEP)

JLEP provides funding to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of working age with real and sustainable employment.

  • Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) beneficial grant funding under section 64(4) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Land Rights Act) is provided for one-off grant funding (non-recurrent funding) for proposals that benefit Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory.

National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA)

The National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) is an agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to work towards ensuring all Australians have access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing that contributes to social and economic participation. Funding is provided to state and territory governments for this purpose through the National Affordable Housing Specific Purpose Payment.

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020

The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 (the National Framework), endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in April 2009, is a long-term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australia's children and aims to deliver a substantial and sustained reduction in levels of child abuse and neglect over time.

National Ice Action Strategy

Reducing the impact of ice is a priority for the Australian, state and territory governments.

In response to the findings of the National Ice Taskforce, the Australian Government is providing $298.2 million over four years from 1 July 2016 to tackle the problem of ice. This funding will strengthen our responses across education, prevention, treatment, support and community engagement.

National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), the Commonwealth is providing $230 million over two years (2015-2017), matched by states and territories, to fund frontline homelessness services.

The NPAH gives priority to frontline services focusing on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, and homeless youth.

National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing

The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) aims to facilitate significant reform in the provision of housing for Indigenous people in remote communities and to address overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing condition and severe housing shortage in remote Indigenous communities.

A new Remote Housing Strategy is currently being negotiated with state and territory governments to replace the last 2.5 years of NPARIH from 2016. It will focus on making housing in remote communities more sustainable through improved property and tenancy management and continued work to remove barriers to home ownership.

National Partnership Agreement on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory

From 2012-2015 the National Partnership Agreement on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory aimed to provide additional support to the NT to improve outcomes in Indigenous health, education, child and family wellbeing, community safety, employment and housing.

In the 2015-16 Federal Budget the Government committed to continuing its long-term investment in the NT until 2021-2022 over the next seven years, with $988.2 million under the new National Partnership Agreement on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment. This new Agreement, which is being negotiated with the NT Government, streamlines efforts with the objectives to improve schooling for Aboriginal children, make remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory safer and healthier, improve public housing, and increase access to interpreter services and job opportunities for adults.

National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022

The Australian, state and territory governments have worked with the community to develop a 12-year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The National Plan focuses on the two main types of violent crimes that have a major impact on women in Australia – domestic and family violence and sexual assault. It focuses on stopping violence before it happens in the first place, supporting women who have experienced violence, stopping men from committing violence, and building the evidence base so that we learn more about 'what works' in reducing domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

National Rental Affordability Scheme

The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), administered by the Department of Social Services, is a partnership between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments to invest in affordable rental housing.

NRAS aims to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing; reduce rental costs for low and moderate income households; and encourage large-scale investment and innovative delivery of affordable housing.

Reconnect

Reconnect is a community based early intervention and prevention programme for young people aged 12-18 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and their families. Nationally, there are more than 100 Reconnect services, including 10 specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Reconnect is funded under the Department of Social Services' Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention Programme.

Remote Food Access

The Community Stores Licensing Scheme and Outback Stores support good health and nutrition for children and families through access to high quality, affordable and safe food, drinks and grocery items in remote communities.

Remote Indigenous Home Loan programme

To improve opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to own their own home, Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) provides concessional loans and other supports to eligible Indigenous Australians in particular remote areas.

Women's Safety Package

In September 2015 the Australian Government announced a $100 million Women's Safety Package to take action against family violence. The Package includes funding for developing innovative ways of using technology to keep women safe (GPS trackers for perpetrators, safe phones and safety devices for homes), extending support services in remote Indigenous communities, as well as education resources to teach young people about respectful relationships. $21 million is being directed to activities to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and families safe.

Appendix 1 - Demographic Context

Population

As of 30 June 2015, there were an estimated 729,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This represented 3 per cent of the Australian population, although this varies from region to region - from 30 per cent of the population of the Northern Territory to 0.9 per cent of the population of Victoria.

Remoteness

In 2011, around 79 per cent of Indigenous Australians lived in regional and metropolitan areas. While only 14 per cent of Indigenous Australians lived in very remote areas, they made up a large proportion of Australians living in very remote areas (45 per cent).

This map shows localities across Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live. The size of the circle at each locality varies according to the size of the Indigenous population in that location. The map illustrates many towns and communities across Australia with small Indigenous populations. However, it also shows that the locations with the largest Indigenous populations are the capital cities and regional centres closest to coastal areas.

Figure 1: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia

The Indigenous population is expected to grow between 2011 and 2026 across major cities, regional areas and remote areas. However, the rate of growth varies across these areas with the Indigenous population projected to become more urbanised with consistent falls in the proportion living in remote areas between 2011 and 2026. By 2026 it is projected that around 17.5 per cent of Indigenous people will live in remote areas compared to 21.3 per cent in 2011 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Proportion of the Indigenous population, by remoteness, 2011-2026

Source: ABS Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 2001 to 2026

Bar graph showing Proportion of the Indigenous population, by remoteness, 2011-2026

Young – but ageing

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is quite young compared to the general population. In 2011, 36 per cent of Indigenous Australians were aged 0-14 years compared to 18 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians.

However, the Indigenous population is getting older. Projections by the ABS shown in Figure 3 indicate that by 2026 Indigenous people aged 65 and over will account for 6.4 per cent of the Indigenous population almost double the proportion in 2011 (3.4 per cent). The median age of the Indigenous population is also projected to increase from 21.6 years in 2011 to 25.1 years in 2026.

The different age structures reflect the differences in fertility rates and death rates of the two populations and overseas migration.

Figure 3 - Estimated and Projected Indigenous population, by age group, Australia - at 30 June

Source: ABS Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 2001 to 2026

Population pyramid showing estimated and projected Indigenous population by age group

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