2018-19 Budget: Backing the economic aspirations of First Australians

Release Date: 
8 May 2018
Media release

This year’s Budget includes $5 billion in investment through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy for targeted programmes to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians can take advantage of the opportunities the economy is creating.

This Budget includes new reforms to the Community Development Programme that will support 6,000 jobs in remote Australia, landmark new investment in remote housing in the Northern Territory and reform of the current $2 billion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account via the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund.

Following an extensive consultation period of co-design with communities, the Coalition Government is announcing significant reforms to the Community Development Programme (CDP). The Government inherited the failed Remote Jobs and Communities Programme that drove remote communities into the misery of passive welfare. The CDP, which commenced in July 2015, has lifted participation from 7 per cent to over 70 per cent.

The reforms in this Budget will increase support for the most vulnerable job seekers, while ensuring more job-ready participants move into work. Six thousand jobs will be supported across remote Australia through a new wage subsidy programme, supporting local organisations to grow their remote workforce and continuing to deliver the critical frontline services needed in these communities.

These jobs will be set aside for CDP participants. Implementation of the CDP reforms will commence in early 2019, with a focus on:

  • Providing tailored support to job seekers, building on the high levels of engagement achieved under the CDP, and reducing the rate of non-compliance.
  • Realigning the maximum hours of participation requirements job seekers are required to undertake to 20 hours per week.
  • Improving job seeker work capacity assessments to ensure that job seekers are appropriately supported on their path to work.
  • Cutting red tape for some job seekers by reducing income reporting requirements to Centrelink.
  • Ensuring that all job seekers, regardless of where they live, or which government programme they participate in, will be subject to the same compliance framework. 

This year’s Budget will also see an investment of $550 million over five years for remote housing in the Northern Territory. This investment will for the first time leverage matched funding from the Northern Territory Government to ensure buy-in from the Territory Government as it takes up its own responsibility for providing safe and appropriate housing for First Australians in remote areas, just as it does in every other community in the Territory.

The Coalition Government will work in partnership with Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government to ensure the mistakes of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing are not repeated. Local Aboriginal decision-making, local Aboriginal employment and local Aboriginal procurement are at the heart of our investment.

The Government is in negotiations with the Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian Governments about future Commonwealth investment in those jurisdictions.

This Budget also cements watershed changes to the Land Account which was set up following the Mabo (No 2) decision to assist those whose native title had been extinguished, by providing an annual dividend to the Indigenous Land Corporation to acquire and manage land on their behalf.

The new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund will ensure the long-term sustainability of this $2 billion fund which has been plagued with low rates of return. This major legislative reform will also expand the functions of the ILC to include freshwater and sea country.

The 2018-19 Budget builds on the Coalition’s highly successful Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP), which has seen an incredible increase in the contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses. Prior to the IPP, Indigenous businesses were under represented in Commonwealth-awarded contracts, with 30 Indigenous businesses winning just $6.2 million in contracts in 2012-13. Since the IPP commenced in July 2015, over 1000 Indigenous businesses have won contracts delivering goods and services totalling more than $1 billion.

The Turnbull Government will ensure that First Australians are benefiting from our plan for a stronger economy and more jobs, while guaranteeing the essential services that are so important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.