Report probes into Aboriginal funding
A report launched into the recipients of billions worth of funding for Closing the Gap initiatives in Pilbara Aboriginal communities, including Roebourne, has found a large proportion of the money goes towards mainstream government services.
Local representative body the Pilbara Aboriginal Corporations and Enterprises last year commissioned Roebourne Consulting Services to put together the Remote Cost Allocations and Closing the Gap report, in response to claims $53 million worth of government funding was going towards only 800 indigenous people living in Roebourne.
The claim was made based on the Australian Productivity Commission’s 2014 Indigenous Expenditure Report, which found the total amount of direct indigenous expenditure in WA was $4.9 billion.
After a year of work, the report was launched at a meeting of 13 Pilbara Aboriginal corporations in Point Samson two weeks ago.
RCS consultant and report author Jolleen Hicks, who is also a Roebourne resident, said PACE had commissioned her to take a closer look at the 2014 review and which bodies were receiving most of the funding.
“A lot of this expenditure is around the Closing the Gap strategy... areas (in which) the government wants to close the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people,” she said.
“The government is saying that they reported they spend billions on Aboriginal services and programs each year, and so what PACE ... asked me to do is have a look at that because there’s been conflicting reports that it’s actually not billions, it’s in the millions.”
“What I wanted to clearly understand is what is that all specifically for, for services and programs for Aboriginal people, and if not, where is it going?”
Ms Hicks said she found the majority of the funding identified in the 2014 review went to a combination of Federal, State and local government bodies and included mainstream services that all Australian citizens receive and do not necessarily contribute towards Closing the Gap programs.
She said in Roebourne only 20 per cent, or $11.7 million, of the funding identified in the review was going towards Aboriginal corporations.
She said two of those main corporations in Roebourne, the Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Corporation and Mawarnkarra Health Service, were well recognised as making positive progress on Closing the Gap outcomes.
Ms Hicks said the report had been a “location-based review” that had been requested by the Roebourne community in response to concerns there were too many service providers delivering too few results in the town.
The report found the $939 million identified in the 2014 report went towards 63 service providers who were delivering a total of 206 services in Roebourne.