The Morrison Government handed down the 2021-22 Federal Budget this week which may be the last before the next election.
It has been described as a recovery budget following a year thrown into turmoil due to the COVID 19 pandemic as well as the lockdowns and restrictions that came with it.
The Budget also included a whole section just on women following a number of allegations of sexual violence against women by ministers or staff during the past year.
The Women’s Budget Statement was given by Environment Minister Sussan Ley and announced funding for women’s health and safety, domestic and family violence support and economic security.
The Government announced $57.6 million to go towards tackling violence against women in Indigenous communities, with $26 million going towards Family Violence Prevention Legal Services programs.
While the Government has spruiked a spending of $3.4 billion on women, $1.7 billion of that is for childcare measures.
Spending on First Nations people has drawn mixed reactions.
The budget has been described as a ‘wait and see’ budget by First Nations peak bodies because while funding has been announced in some areas, it is unclear how measures will be implemented and whether community organisations will be properly engaged.
The national peak for first nations health services says while there were some good announcements in this year’s budget, it was a missed opportunity for improving health infrastructure.
The National Community Controlled Health Organisation welcomes announcements of targeted funding for things such as a rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening and workplace training packages for remote professionals.
While there is some good news in the budget, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says they have been calling for funding to update health services that have aging infrastructure.
The national peak for First Nations childcare has welcomed investment in women’s safety, early education and care but says it could go further.
The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care welcomes plans to make childcare cheaper for low-income families but will continue to call for the activity test to be scrapped.
Currently the number of hours of subsidised childcare your child qualifies for based on how much you work or study.
SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle says Indigenous children who are vulnerable need at least 30 hours of childcare per week no matter what.
SNAICC also welcomes the announced survey of domestic violence in our communities but expects governments to work with communities.
A new survey will be established to look at the prevalence of family, domestic and sexual violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls.
CEO Catherine Liddle says the survey has to find community needs and solutions.
Federal Labor MP Linda Burney has been critical of the Government’s announcements around women and children.
The government’s much-spruiked “women’s budget” includes $998.1 million over the next four years for initiatives to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence against women and children and initiatives to support them.
Of that, $26 million has been allocated over the same period to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children who have experienced or are experiencing family violence.
Shadow minister for Social Services Linda Burney says the money will do little to address the “fundamental issue.”
The Healing Foundation says the Morrison Government’s 2021-22 Federal Budget offered glimmers of hope but the key to advancement lies in the implementation of Tuesday’s announcements.
The national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation works closely with First Nations families and communities to address the significant trauma caused by the forced removal of children from their families.
CEO Fiona Cornforth said they would have liked to have seen more First Nations communities and organisations leading the design, delivery, and planning of Budget initiatives to ensure safety and wellbeing for our communities.
She said there was little in the Budget to support the healing of Stolen Generations survivors or their descendants.
The national peak for Indigenous legal services says a lack of funding for the sector minimises the national crisis of deaths in custody.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service they have not seen any additional funding given to the sector and that it will further entrench our people into the justice system.
NATSILS says that with 475 black deaths in custody since the royal commission 30 years ago, it’s more important than ever that our legal services are properly resourced.
Chair Priscilla Atkins says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services are already suffering from a demand we cannot meet due to substantial delays and understaffing.
As mentioned earlier, First Nations organisations are referring to the latest budget as a ‘wait and see’ budget because most funding related to closing the gap is expected to be announced later in the year.