ACOSS concerned by proposed cuts to Aboriginal legal services and foreign aid

6 September 2013

Speaking from the G20 Leaders Summit in Russia, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council of Social Service, Dr Cassandra Goldie said, “It is very disappointing that some of the Coalition’s proposed savings measures appear to target some of the most disadvantaged people at home and overseas

“We are concerned that in addition to the $4.5 billion cut to foreign aid, a proposed cut of $42 million over 4 years to the ‘Indigenous Policy Reform Program’ could cut funding from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.

“Affected services tell us they are still awaiting further details about the announcement that comes without notice or consultation with services that provide vital assistance to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community.

“The incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a national shame, accounting for a quarter of the prison numbers despite being less than 3 per cent of the total population. It is difficult to see how the proposed funding cut is consistent with our shared interest in reducing this disturbing gap.

“ACOSS accepts that our nation faces a fiscal challenge, however, we have always maintained this should not be solved at the expense of people doing it the toughest.

“We are deeply disappointed about the Coalition decision to cut $4.5 billion dollars to Australia’s foreign aid growth over the next four years.

“We join Australian international aid organisations in urging the Coalition to rethink this savings measure, which will harm hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in the world, and damage Australia’s image overseas, especially in our region.

“As the global community watches Australia take up the Presidency of the G20, as well as the Presidency of the UN Security Council, these actions will only diminish us all. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where the majority of us are enjoying living standards better than ever before. We must carry our responsibilities as global citizens.

“Whoever forms Government will need to find a way to meet the gap between falling revenues and the community’s reasonable expectations. This should be done by targeting budget waste and reform of the tax system as ACOSS has advocated, not cutting essential services and supports,” Dr Goldie said.

To arrange interviews with Dr Goldie: contact 0419 626 155

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) -Media Release

Coalition signals 20 per cent funding cut to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

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