Friday, July 8, 2022

NT councils call for funding help to close the gap

Northern Territory local government councils say they are serious about achieving national Closing the Gap targets but need Australian Government assistance to do so.

For the first time, councils through the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT) are signatories – together with the Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory – to the NT Government’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan but say they are not resourced to implement the agreed actions to the level of the other two signatories.

“To demonstrate a genuine commitment to accelerating delivery of Closing the Gap targets, LGANT is asking federal election candidates to commit to funding local government council Closing the Gap initiatives,” the Association said in a statement.

LGANT has echoed the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) call for a $100 million per annum fund over four years to support the capacity building of local government councils nationally in Closing the Gap and implementing the Local and Regional Voice.

Separately, LGANT is asking for an additional $1.8 million over three years for new initiatives to help local government councils with achieving the Closing the Gap targets; and formal recognition of those councils with a majority representation of both elected officials and constituency of First Nation Australians as ‘Aboriginal controlled entities’.

LGANT President, Kon Vatskalis.

LGANT President, Kon Vatskalis says: “We cannot keep doing the same things and expecting a different result”.

“Local government councils are the voice of their communities and make a real and demonstrated difference in delivering outcomes – but they want to do more,” he said.

“Some of the regional and remote local government councils in the Territory have a majority First Nations constituency but have a revenue shortfall that inhibits them from delivering what their constituents are asking for.

“Without new funding, the Implementation Plan signatories will struggle to effectively collaborate and little will change regarding meeting the Closing the Gap targets.”

He said funding would assist LGANT and its member councils achieve the desired results for First Nations people in the areas of education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages.

Lapulung Dhamarrandji, President of East Arnhem Regional Council, welcomed the initiative being shown by LGANT.

President of East Arnhem Regional Council, Lapulung Dhamarrandji.

“This recognition is important to our Local Authorities and Regional Council and our people. This change would mean we can do much needed work across our communities using the local skills and knowledge in what are unique and often challenging conditions,” he said. 

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