Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have inhabited Australia for at least 40,000 years. Nowadays they account for just under 3% of the national population. More than 250 languages and 600 dialects existed when Europeans arrived in Australia, but this number has dwindled and all but 20 are considered to be in danger of dying out.
The Torres Strait is made up of around 100 islands, and was annexed by Queensland in 1879. The culture and history of Torres Strait Islanders is distinct from Aboriginal traditions, with Islanders sharing many connections with their Papuan neighbours.
Nearly a third of Indigenous Australians live in remote settlements, which brings significant challenges in terms of providing access to health care, education, and economic opportunity.
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Indigenous Affairs policy
Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program
After nearly three and a half years, a handful of houses have finally been built under the Federal Government’s Indigenous housing program.
But that’s where the good news ends. Millions of dollars have already been spent, one of the three alliances delivering houses was sacked , and ‘refurbishments’ are now happening under a ‘fix and make safe’ program. This means that routine maintenance which the Government is responsible for completing on an ongoing basis is now being counted towards reaching the target of 2,500 refurbishments and 230 rebuilds. See photos of the renovations here.
In Alice Springs, money promised to secure a lease agreement for the Alice Springs town camps transformation was swindled from the $672m SIHIP budget, despite a clear understanding that the $100m transformation plan would be provided over and above the funds earmarked for 73 identified NTER communities. Funding for the town camps is much needed, but the Government’s figure fiddling means other communities won’t get as much funding.
Overcrowding in houses is still at the core of social dysfunction in Indigenous communities, and it’s simply not good enough that Indigenous Territorians are being treated as second-class citizens.