19 February 2024

New round of funding opens for Aboriginal infrastructure in Victoria

| James Day
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Natalie standing with a group in front of the national flags.

On Tuesday (13 February), Minister Hutchins visited the Western Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations Collective, who have benefited from facilities built under the grants. Photo: Facebook/Natalie Hutchins MP.

Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Natalie Hutchins announced the opening of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program’s seventh round on Tuesday, which has delivered almost $39 million to not-for-profits since 2018.

Grants between $50,000 and $1.6 million are open until 2 pm on 22 April, dedicated to supporting Aboriginal organisations build new or repair existing infrastructure for their community.

“The Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program has supported Aboriginal organisations to upgrade and expand their facilities so they can deliver the essential services their communities need since 2018,” said Ms Hutchins.

“We invite applications from eligible Aboriginal organisations so we can best support them and their communities to thrive.”

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In June 2021, Victorian Parliament tabled the Aboriginal community-controlled sector as a key priority area in their Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. The priority was also recognised in the state’s recently updated Infrastructure Strategy 2021-2051, showing that investment in community infrastructure as crucial to meeting the demands of the growing sector.

But the State Government’s Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 clearly sets out the right to self-determination for First Nations people in these projects.

It states the need for a transformation in the relationship between government and Indigenous communities through this philosophy, so they can work together in sustaining the long-term changes in the health, wellbeing and economic prosperity being achieved under these programs.

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More than $11 million is available in this round of the program, administered by the Department of Government Services on behalf of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Overseeing the project since its inception in 2018, is a control group made up of representatives from both departments.

Since that time the program has contributed to multiple organisations, including the Koorie Heritage Trust for its $1.6 million expansion of its First Peoples arts and cultural centre at Fed Square.

Another $1.6 million went to the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, to develop its Healing Spirit Youth Hub: Karroung Kanyool. The facility provides young people with clinical, social and emotional wellbeing services in a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space.

The same amount also went to the Ngwala Willumbong Aboriginal Corporation, to develop a new facility at the Yitjawudik Men’s Recovery Centre in Hume, a communal site providing alcohol and other drug services to Aboriginal men in the community.

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