Earlier this month, NITV News reported that the Federal Government’s funding allocations under the IAS saw cuts to youth programs run by the Barkly Regional Council.
But on Monday, Barkly Regional Council said it had been notified that funding for its Indigenous Sport and Active Recreation Program would continue.
“The government back pedalled and put back most of the youth dollars they took from Central Australia. Thanks to everyone who helped in our time of need. We got our word out fast and powerfully,” said a post to its Facebook page.
The co-ordinator for youth, sport and recreation in the Barkly Regional Council, Sean Spencer, says the services are essential for Indigenous youths in the region and the greater community.
“If you have been out here to see our community, you can see how important our programs are, diverting youth from substance abuse, particularly [petrol] sniffing,” said Mr Spencer.
“One of the assessment criteria [under the IAS] was to show how your program makes communities safe. Without this program, instances of crime rises, violence rises, and youth suicide rises.”
A spokesperson for the Indigenous Affairs Minister told NITV that funding for the youth program was reinstated as part of a $20.5 million for a range of youth services across the North Territory.
“The Department [of Prime Minister and Cabinet] is currently negotiating with Barkly Shire Council and other providers to ensure youth services are continued across the Northern Territory.”
However, while the community has welcomed the news, concerns remain about the future of funding in the region.
“But even though it’s great, it feels like a band-aid solution ..."
“It’s great that we have our program secured,” says Mr Spencer. “But even though it’s great, it feels like a band-aid solution – we originally applied for three years of funding, and have only got 12 months. We’re having to fight for our programs.”
Barkly Regional Council CEO Edwina Marks said that the Federal Government had committed $446,000 to the council’s youth, sports and recreational program, but that the Council needs $1.1 million to fund all of its youth initiatives including an out-of-school-hours service.
“Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion says he has approved spending of $20.5 million to deliver frontline services in the NT, with a strong focus on youth,” Ms Marks said in a media release.
“But does Senator Scullion really think that $446,000 could possibly support this delivery in a region as vast and remote as ours?”
Barkly Regional Council is located in Tennant Creek about 1,000 kilometres south of Darwin.
The council, which is an amalgamation of homeland councils in the area, is responsible for providing a number of services to the region including governance, maintenance of roads and community management.
Seventy per cent of Barkly region are Indigenous and are from language groups such as Warrumungu, Jingili, Alyawarre and Garawa, and the council says many of that proportion are youths.
The funding will enable the program to deploy sports and recreational services across five remote communities – Ali Curung, Alpurrurulam, Ampilatwatja, Arlparra and Elliott – in the region over 12 months.
According to the PM&C, the Central Desert Regional Council has also been recommended for funding.
Additional reporting by Danny Teece-Johnson.