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Budget cuts make a mockery of Abbott’s promise to be Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

The Australian Greens said today that the self-proclaimed Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has failed the very people he said he was going to be there for and support.

"I hold grave fears for our ability to Close the Gap in life expectancy and health outcomes within a generation when more than half a billion dollars is being taken out of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples portfolio," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"Tony Abbott's budget has stripped $534 million from the portfolio as is consolidates 150 programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into five. This appears to include a significant cut of $165.8 in of health programs, which is very disturbing.

"There is a great deal of confusion about which programs will be affected. The Government has sent letters to community organisations who are just two months away from the end of their funding, saying some may be extended, but offering no certainty. This is unacceptable so close to the new financial year.

"The Government cuts and changes have been made with no proper consultation with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, which is a very disturbing sign given Tony Abbott's commitment to be the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

"I am very concerned to see family violence services in line to be cut, given Aboriginal women are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault.

"It is disgraceful that funding to National Congress of Australia's First Peoples has also been cut. Clearly the Government isn't interested in hearing elected representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples nor are they interested in self-determination.

"While key funding measures now face an uncertain future, it seems the Government is remaining stubbornly committed to the negative measures in place under Stronger Futures. Harsh government cuts in areas like Newstart and Youth Allowance, along with the introduction of a GP co-payment will disproportionately affect many Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

"This is a very disturbing budget and I'm deeply concerned about its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Senator Siewert concluded.

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