Indigenous Arts funding – Smoke and Mirrors

Over the last while I have had much to say on matters pertaining to this portfolio. This week I revealed the actual funding amounts for indigenous arts in the ACT.  NOT $21.6 million. Not even two percent of that!

This governments ongoing failings in the area of indigenous affairs gives me much to be concerned about. I acknowledge that this is a difficult area; I am not oblivious to the many areas of disadvantage, even intergenerational disadvantage, which are experienced by indigenous Canberrans. But with the small numbers involved, not enough is being done to work with appropriate Indigenous organisations to overcome some of these significant areas of disadvantage. Of course, this government would like you to believe differently.

During the budget week, the government released a glossy brochure which detailed the funding that would be spend on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives. The numbers seemed staggering at first glance – 21.6 million on the arts, a twelve-million-dollar facility for Winnunga, just over half a million dollars on families, a hundred thousand dollars in seed funding, 5.3 million for Throughcare, 3.2 million for the AMC and 5.2 million for community legal centres. A total of just over 42 million dollars! But as with many things that concern this government, the devil is always in the detail. A detail they are good at hiding, ignoring, or perhaps wishing it would go away.

So – let’s start with the arts, which falls in this directorate and probably the most significant promise, 21.6 million dollars. You may be wondering what this will be spend on. Well, I can now inform the Assembly that the actual number is much, much lower. The specific funding for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture is four hundred thousand over 4 years. That is one hundred thousand dollars per year, specific indigenous funding.  Not 21.6 million. Not even two percent.

We call on the ACT government to give the breakdown of Arts Funding for ATSI specific projects and grants, and not as part of an overall budget.