Closing the Gap results mixed

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

Federal funding for indigenous West Australians has dropped almost 3 per cent, according to the latest Productivity Commission Report.

According to the Indigenous Expenditure Report 2017 released by the Productivity Commission, the Australian government spent an estimated $33.4 billion on programs and services delivered to indigenous Australians in 2015-16.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, however, expressed his disappointment after the report found that direct expenditure on indigenous West Australians had fallen by 2.6 per cent.

In response to the report, Mr Wyatt said the McGowan Government would continue to re-invest in regional communities and was committed to Closing the Gap initiatives.

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“It’s disappointing to see the Federal Government, which has benefited so greatly from WA’s resources, cutting its resources to some of our State’s most disadvantaged people,” he said.

“I’m always suspicious of these reports which capture mainstream services as well as indigenous-specific funding — it can present a very distorted picture.”

In contrast to the Federal funding, the WA government spent $3 billion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents in 2015-16, an increase of 7.6 per cent from 2012-13.

Mr Wyatt said a number of initiatives will be progressed by the State government to achieve better outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in WA.

The initiatives include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “data warehouse” in the new Aboriginal Policy Unit, which will provide a clear line of sight between Closing the Gap targets and performance against those targets.

The State Government has also funded the first detailed analysis of Government service provisions and expenditure in the Kimberley and Pilbara and its impact on indigenous communities, which Mr Wyatt said will be ongoing through the Regional Services Reform Unit.

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