Voice of the Land - Volume 03 PDF Print E-mail
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Voice of the Land - Volume 3

Our Languages Are the Voice of the Land

The FATSIL NEWSLETTER OCTOBER, 1996
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CORPORATION OF LANGUAGES
VOLUME 03

Language programs escape budget cuts

Financial support for language programs across Australia will not be reduced despite severe cuts to ATSIC's funding in the recent federal budget.

In determining which areas would retain support, ATSIC Commissioners voted to give priority to Arts and Culture, Broadcasting Media and Language.

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Tomasina Mam
ATSIC Commissioner Tomasina Mam was pleased that lobbying on behalf of Culture and Language had been successful. "The work being carried out in the language centres has been recognized as vital in preserving the cultural identity of indigenous Australians."

The Commission faces a funding loss of more than $470 million over four years. There will also be a 30% reduction in funding for programs other than CDEP (Community Development Employment Program), Community Housing and Infrastructure and Native Title Representative bodies. The ATSIC Board decided it had no option but to terminate some major programs.

In taking the decisions forced on it by the Government, the ATSIC Board had set four principles.

These were to direct priority towards those activities which:

  • promote the distinct identity of indigenous Australians;
  • preserve indigenous cultural heritage;
  • enhance the rights of indigenous peoples; and
  • are not provided by other agencies.

On that basis, the ATSIC Board had reluctantly concluded that it was forced to terminate the following:

  • Community Training program, leaving ATSIC with no labour market program other than CDEP;
  • The Development of Industry Strategies, which had been an initiative of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody;
  • the Movement to Award Wages program; which means that ATSIC will no longer be able to supplement those organisations moving their indigenous staff to award wages; and
  • the Community and Youth Support Program. This will effectively remove from ATSIC the responsibility for Commonwealth and State agencies which provided much needed community services and welfare to indigenous people.