Victorian Treasurer Tom Pallas today handed down the Andrews Labor government’s state budget, revealing a $109 million investment into Aboriginal Affairs over four years.
This includes a heavy focus on domestic violence services, children and families, greater access to mental health services, and a further investment in the Treaty process.
"The budget continues the important work of recognising our First Peoples," Mr Pallas said.
"Victoria is the first state in Australia to enter into formal Treaty negotiations with Aboriginal people.
"$109 million will go towards closing the gap and prioritising Aboriginal culture and heritage, to ensure all Aboriginal children can, in the words of the Uluru Statement, ‘walk in two worlds, and their culture will be a gift to their country’."
For the 2019-2020 period, $34.8 million will be invested into a number of community-led initiatives. That number increases to $43.1 million for the 2020-21 period, then drops dramatically to $15.8 million for the 2021-22 period, and $15.4 during 2022-23.
The biggest winner was Treaty, with $30.4 million allocated over two years to help Aboriginal Victorians achieve self-determination.
This includes $12 million over two years towards the establishment and funding of the First People's Assembly and $13.5 million towards ensuring Traditional Owners are "equipped and ready" for negotiations.
Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner, Jill Gallagher, welcomed the news.
“This is important news for the Treaty process. It is fitting that our community can have certainty that the Assembly is funded to do its job,” she said.
“Aboriginal communities are preparing for a vote to elect the Assembly. Today, candidate nominations open. Over the next 2 years, the Assembly will be in an increasingly strong position to achieve long-term financial security for the Treaty process."
Family violence was also high on the budget agenda, with $28.8 million over four years going to Dhelk Dja: Aboriginal 10-year Family Violence Plan; a further $8.7 million going towards specialised family violence services; and $2.4 million for Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place.
“I am extremely pleased to see Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place given ongoing funding in today’s budget. The Victorian Government have provided unprecedented investment in Djirra since the Royal Commission,” Djirra CEO Antoinette Braybrook said.
“We hope to see future Victorian Budgets provide more funding for specialist organisations like Djirra and its Koori Women’s Place so we can expand our successful and culturally safe programs into others parts of the state.
"This will build Aboriginal women’s resilience, address the high rates of violence and increasing incarceration and child removal rates against our women, and ensure our women and children are together safe."
$13.6 million over two years will go to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations for case management of Aboriginal children in care.
$8.5 million over two years allocated towards Aboriginal health, well being and safety, with a focus on mental health.
$5.8 million over 4 years will go towards cultural heritage management, $4.9 million over two years will go towards kinship finding services.
$700,00 towards Aboriginal Languages Program Training Initiative for teachers, $300,000 over 3 years for the Hanging Rock Traditional Owner Joint management Board, and $400,000 over one year will go to the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring program.