The Australian Government will provide up to $500,000 per year to help people with Machado Joseph Disease (MJD) cover the costs of therapeutic services and other assistance required by people with the condition.
Minister for Indigenous, Nigel Scullion, said the funding would directly replace the funding the Foundation intended to draw down from a $10 million grant, in addition to an earlier $6 million provided through the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA).
“The ABA is Aboriginal money and should not be used to fund basic health services,” the Minister said.
“We do not ask that of people living in other communities. The Australian Government, rightly, has the responsibility to provide funds for social housing, health and education to Australians, regardless of their background or where they live.
“Eroding the ABA by pulling out $10 million to allow any organisation to invest in order to fund its recurrent expenditure is an inappropriate use of mining royalty funds,” the Minister said.
“It’s absolutely vital that we maintain the integrity and sustainability of the ABA and that’s why I overturned the decision of the former Minister to grant the Foundation $10 million from the ABA.
“The ABA is invested and earns interest which funds one-off projects. It is not intended to provide recurrent funding for organisations.
“The former Government’s actions would have not only eroded the ABA by $16 million, reducing its own annual earnings by about $1 million – forever.”
The Minister said his announcement today upholds the fundamental principle that the ABA should not be used to fund services that the Commonwealth should be providing directly.
“This is a much more appropriate way to fund the work of the MJDF, rather than through the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA). Indigenous people with serious health issues should not have to fund their own therapeutic services,” the Minister said.
“This funding will be offered to the MJD Foundation over a period of up to three years and the Government is in discussion with the Foundation about the package.
“MJD is a terrible disease that is particularly prevalent among Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”
The Minister said the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be a major benefit for people with MJD.
“Once rolled out in the Northern Territory, the NDIS will assess eligible individuals to see what help they need and then provide appropriate funding,” Minister Scullion said.
“Not everyone will be eligible for the NDIS, but where appropriate it will assist people at the latter stages of MJD with profound disabilities.
“That is why I am talking to the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield, about how and when it will assist people living with MJD as part of the transition to the full scheme.
“We will review the funding we are providing to the MJD Foundation on a regular basis to ensure it is being used as effectively as possible and that eligible participants are NDIS- ready.”
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