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Millions for Wilcannia

Tuesday, 21st April, 2009

A new bureaucrat will be appointed to manage a multi-million dollar revolution in service delivery in remote Aboriginal communities, including Wilcannia.

Wilcannia is one of 24 towns across the country that the Federal Government will put millions of dollars into try and to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, made the announcement at an address to the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy in Perth yesterday. Minister Macklin said the Remote Service Delivery Strategy, which all state and territory governments have signed onto, would target disadvantage. While she did not say how much money would be pumped into the strategy, Ms Macklin indicated the country's recession would not limit spending. "Our benchmark will be to progressively deliver in communities or townships the facilities and services you would expect in any Australian town of the same size. "The same infrastructure and services that support and sustain healthy social norms so people can reach their potential and business can thrive." The new model of service delivery would initially concentrate resources in priority locations, such as Wilcannia. Ms Macklin said a complete overhaul of the way governments delivered services and invested in remote areas must take place. "For too long remote communities have been the recipients of disjointed, ad hoc and unco-ordinated actions and responses from governments at all levels." To start the Remote Service Delivery strategy, a mapping of social and economic indicators, government investments, services and gaps in services would be undertaken in each location. Ms Macklin said a co-ordinated and comprehensive local implementation plan would then be tailored to the specific needs of each town. "Negotiated with the community and across government, these plans will be monitored to make sure they are on track and delivering agreed priorities - and revised if they're not," she said. A new and senior position of Co-ordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services will be created. Reporting directly to Minister Macklin, the Co-ordinator General would drive the reform agenda addressing the delivery of services, maximising employment and training opportunities and overseeing housing tenure agreements. Ms Macklin said the Federal Government's $6.4 billion allocation for social housing under the Nation Building Stimulus Plan would aid in the improvement of Indigenous Australians' lives. However a spokesman for Housing NSW said not one of the 850 Stage 1 social houses would be built in Wilcannia.

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