• National Congress of Australia's First People leads a cohort of Indigenous peak bodies to respond to the Federal Budget 2017 (NITV)
Peak Indigenous groups have responded to the federal budget, saying its new measures are out of touch and fail to reach real solutions for Indigenous Australians.
By
Source:
The Point
10 May 2017 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 10 May 2017 - 6:09 PM

Indigenous peak bodies have converged on Canberra to respond to the federal budget, announced on Tuesday night by Treasurer Scott Morrison.

They say the Turnbull Government is out of touch and many of its measures affecting Indigenous Australians are not enough. They're calling on the Coalition to work with First Nations peoples to reach real solutions.

National Congress of Australia's First People Co-Chair Rod Little says Indigenous people are invisibile. 

"We should be featuring more prominently in a national budget," he said. 

Congress Co-Chair Jackie Huggins agrees. 

"We have been lumped in with a whole range of the people and really buried under those statistics," she said. 

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care CEO, Gerry Moore, says the budget fails Indigenous children. 

"This isn't anywhere near enough and the government need to think seriously about the children of our future, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children," he said. 

NATSILS CEO Cheryl Axleby says while she welcomes the coalition's reversal of cuts to community legal centres, she warns against action stopping there. 

"We're calling for a justice target, in line with the Closing the Gap targets, we need to have a focus on justice if we really want to see solutions to addressing this issue in Australia," she said. 

Damien Griffis, from the First People's Disability Network, says the Medicare price hike to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not enough. 

He says an Aboriginal-owned and operated disability service system is needed. 

"That needs to happen urgently. It needed to happen yesterday frankly, so that we can get equal and fair access to the NDIS," he said. 

Labor MP Linda Burney says the Government's economic blueprint neglects Indigenous Australians. 

"It has no vision, it does not anticipate the real issues that are coming up for the Aboriginal space. It also is going to put more money into the pockets of bureaucracies and consultants not out there on the ground where it's needed," she told NITV News. 

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Greens Senator, Rachel Siewart, says while the Treasurer might have vaguely mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in his budget speech, the detail doesn’t back up the rhetoric. 

“What you don’t see included in the budget papers can be just as concerning as what you do include. This is definitely the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the 2017 Federal Budget," she said. 

“There is no commitment [of] resources to the Redfern statement, this is despite it being a document backed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and peoples as essential to close the gap." 

But the coalition is sticking by its new measures. 

Treasurer Scott Morrison continued to push for the controversial cashless debit card at the National Press Club. 

"We're expanding it as we should, because we're not a government that is afraid to try things. If they don't work, guess what? We will stop doing them. If they do work, guess what? We will keep doing them and we will expand them because that's what practical people do," he said. 

Even more controversial is the crackdown on welfare recepients who will be face random drug-tests and be cut-off after three strikes.

Independent Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie, went as far as suggesting politicians receive the same treatment. 

"It would be nice to see government leading by example and be doing drug testing at their own doors," she told the ABC. 

Damien Griffis fears the punitive measures will only cause more harm. 

"That will have very serious implications for people who have Featal Alcohol-Spectrum Disorder," he said.

Cheryl Axelby also says the effects will be detrimental. 

"The outfall of that will allay further impact on our ability to respond to as Aboriginal Legal Services to provide support to our people who are impacted by those welfare reforms," she said. 

But the Prime Minister was proudly standing by his government's plan. 

"I'm very proud of this budget. This is a budget that really sets us up for the better days ahead," he said. 

But many have been left wondering... Better days ahead for who?  

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