Indigenous peoples of Australia are hundreds of native Australians with distinct language histories and socio-cultural traditions, representing 3.3% of the total Australian population.
Despite that, Indigenous Australians continue to suffer from social and economic oppression. The high rate of illiteracy among the groups is the root cause of unemployment, thereby restricting them from living like the non-indigenous Australians.
For more than decades, the Australian Government has been striving to create better policies and programs to improve the lifestyles of these indigenous people. The Productivity Commission in Australia is asked to chalk out effective economic development strategies to uplift indigenous Australians.
Why The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy?
Discrimination at different facets has forced indigenous populations to alienate themselves from the mainstream lifestyle. Many educated aboriginals also struggle to find valuable employment opportunities despite completing their education.
All Australian governments are committed to actively work to ensure these people enjoy the benefits of the policies. The Australian Government has set out a long-term plan with the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018. It sets out a framework for the Government to evaluate the results of different policies and translate different reforms into action.
The three primary elements driving the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy:
- To overcome underinvestment in different services
- To encourage personal responsibilities for a better lifestyle
- To change people’s view and understanding of the indigenous people
The Australian Government also launched the “Closing the Gap” strategy prioritizing six crucial factors:
- Reduce the life expectancy gap by 2031
- Provide quality primary education to all children of remote indigenous communities by 2013
- Lower the child mortality rates by 2018
- Decrease educational gap and encourage students to read, write and calculate by 2018
- Increase more young people to complete Year 12 or equivalent by 2020
- Bring down unemployment rates by 2018
The Australian Government has already invested over $5.75 billion in 2011-12 and another $526.6 million to bring the strategies into action. The governing bodies understand the importance of good education, safe housing, health facilities, and community in building a strong economy. With numerous ongoing investments and initiatives, the Government is looking to achieve the key factors mentioned outlined in the Strategy.
Although these strategies are assessed every three years and updated to make sure the actions are suitable for the changing circumstances, the Government’s efforts alone cannot drive sustainable progress. For lasting improvements, the strategy encourages the active participation of the indigenous people. They should take responsibility to become productive and improve their social and economic wellbeing.
Greater participation from the indigenous Australians will give them financial independence and contribute to the country’s economy. It will help bridge the earning gap and reduce employment disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
Indigenous Economic Development Strategy Plan: Prioritizing The Basics
Individuals are more likely to perform and improve themselves when they work in an environment that encourages them to work on themselves. The Australian Government’s extraordinary economic development strategy and investments have made a massive difference in the lives of indigenous people.
The Government also ensured that all departments – be it legal, taxation or welfare should encourage the aboriginal community to participate in the economy successfully. Let’s look at some of the Government’s initiatives to strengthen the basics of the indigenous population in Australia.
- Affordable housing facilities
The indigenous peoples earn two-third of non-indigenous Australians. For them, getting access to safe and affordable houses is almost impossible. But under the Government’s Social Housing Initiative, over 2500 indigenous households receive the benefits. The Australian Government has funded $5.5 billion through the National Partnership Agreement On Indigenous Housing and committed 20% employment throughout the program. They also support Indigenous Business Loan programs to ensure financial independence and homeownership.
- Infrastructure investments
Quality infrastructure contributes to a country’s economy and development. With the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy, the Government is making an unprecedented investment to modernize infrastructure for the indigenous community. The National Broadband Network will improve access to information technology so the indigenous people can take advantage of the latest tech to access the internet to find quality essay writers for help or create new work opportunities.
- Health Services
The Australian Government is committed to improving the healthcare facilities for indigenous communities. It has increased the annual budget for Indigenous healthcare budget by 87% since 2007, including the $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement addressing healthcare services for indigenous communities. Apart from increasing investment in healthcare, the Government is also looking to expand the indigenous health workforce and promote cultural diversity.
Whether it’s primary education or higher studies, education gives you the chance to explore your potential and become self-reliant. The Government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy Plan extensively supports indigenous families to encourage their children to attend school. They are continuing to invest in quality teacher programs to ensure students get the best academic support in primary or secondary school or college.
- Jobs and financial security
The Australian Government has introduced different training programs to increase indigenous employment. Local employment is critically important for the economic growth of a country, and the Government is focused on creating better career pathways for indigenous communities. With increased vocational programs, relocation assistance, and training systems, the Government increases work prospects for the remote communities.
Limitations Of The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018
Although the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018 is to uplift the remote communities and encourage financial independence, there are many loopholes.
- The strategy heavily depends on human development through education and skill-building. However, experts believe other approaches like livelihood and asset-based community development are equally crucial for the indigenous community.
- The strategy gives very little importance to the human rights development approach.
- Even though several studies have highlighted the significance of public and non-public sectors in a country’s economy, the strategy only focuses on the public sector.
- There was no mention of a subsistence-based economy even though many indigenous people from remote communities contribute to this economic sector.
- The strategy majorly depends on individualistic theory. Meaning, only when an individual’s capacity increases, other development takes place. On the contrary, scholars believe a community only develops when it works collectively and not individually.
- The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy plan lacks scientific proof. It is not based on any past studies or results.
The Australian Government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018 is an excellent plan for remove social and economic disparities and improve the living and financial standards of the remote communities. The Government’s primary focus is on:
- Improving educational system
- Increasing housing facilities
- Jobs and skill-building
- Building IT infrastructure
- Developing healthcare
- Growth and financial security
After three years, the plan is evaluated to assess the results and reform programs if needed to achieve the expected target. Even so, many scholars suggest that the strategy is short-sighted and has many limitations. It now falls on the Government to analyze the loopholes in the programs and reform the existing plans to improve the social and economic conditions of the indigenous people and, thereby, the country’s economy.