4 June 2014
Smarter Spending for better Outcomes for Indigenous Communities
Selwyn Button, CEO, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has today welcomed the new Queensland State Budget handed down by Treasurer Tim Nicholls in Parliament.
“This is a ‘bare bones’ Budget and it’s fair to say that sectors across the board will be affected,” Mr Button said.
“However, QAIHC will see this as an opportunity to utilize new and existing investments, and to continue to work together in getting better outcomes for our communities, such as implementing some of the recommendations handed down from the Carmody Inquiry into the Child Protection system.”
This week’s Queensland State Budget sees the Government aiming to raise $33.6 billion through the sale of Government Owned Corporations such as Sunwater, Stanwell, and the long-term leasing of Gladstone Ports Corporation, and the Port of Townsville Limited along with the Mt Isa Rail line.
$25 billion will be used for State debt reduction, and the remaining $8.6 billion will be tucked away in the State Government coffers, to be used for infrastructure and community building.
“We support the Government’s commitment to reducing debt, and we caution that this cannot come at the expense of Indigenous health,” Mr Button advised.
Selwyn Button said that Health and Community Services represent the largest employer of Indigenous people in Queensland, and alignment of new and existing investments into this area will go a long way towards improving the overall well-being of communities and create greater economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“With the focus for Indigenous Affairs on Economic Development and sustainable employment, this should represent a shift in current policy thinking for the government,” Mr Button said.
“However there are still challenges for community controlled services to shift the thinking of policy makers.
“Whilst investment initiatives such as the $10.5 million for the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Inala, and the $4 million towards the Deadly Ears project, are deemed both necessary and worthwhile providers of services to our mob, they do not represent smart investments to build economic opportunities and sustainable employment for our people.” Mr Button stated.
Selwyn Button said that QAIHC has completed recent consultation on economic modeling for up to twenty five Indigenous controlled community health services’ clinics, and for a modest investment of around $2 million these clinics can provide comprehensive primary health care services to a patient population of one thousand people per clinic.
“This also drives local employment and ongoing investment in local communities that are priorities of the Queensland Government, although this is not articulated in the current budget spend.
“Smarter investment will lead to better outcomes for health, education, employment and economic viability of our communities.”
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