The federal government will pour another $424 million into Closing the Gap initiatives under a revamped strategy it says will deliver more practical outcomes for Indigenous Australians after rates of incarceration, suicide and out-of-home care continued to worsen last year.
More than a quarter of the new funding will go towards water infrastructure as the government conceded some remote Indigenous towns did not have access to reliable drinking water, meaning their communities could not run dialysis machines.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will on Monday present the fresh set of plans for tackling Indigenous disadvantage, on a day that will also mark the 15th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s landmark apology to the stolen generations.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said last year’s Closing the Gap report showed the government needed to be doing more, as she promised the additional funding was Labor’s concrete commitment to achieving the targets.
Last year’s report showed targets were on track to be met in the areas of healthy birth weight, youth detention, and land mass subject to rights and interests. However, the targets were not on track for having children developmentally ready for school, adult incarceration, children in out-of-home care, suicide, and coastlines subject to rights and interests.
“Our measures are going to be more specific and more targeted, making real impacts that complement work under way in states and territories,” Burney said.
A new national water grid fund will receive $150 million over four years, targeted at towns that currently lack access to clean drinking water, while $11.8 million over two years will fund a national strategy for food security in remote communities.
There is $111.7 million allocated for a one-year partnership with the Northern Territory government to build new remote housing in the most overcrowded areas – one of Labor’s election promises – as well as $68.6 million in continued funding for two years of family violence and legal support.