“The government’s well-considered and targeted Closing the Gap investment represents a partnership with Indigenous Australians which will help empower Indigenous communities through local solutions,’’ Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed said.
“Today’s investment of more than $1 billion to help close the gap builds on the foundations in place to enable Indigenous Australians to share in the same choices, opportunities for prosperity and avenues to realise their full potential as everyone else.
“This spending is significant because of the partnerships forged with Indigenous organisations. It is evidence-based and directed towards programs and services that are working as well as fixing gaps.
“What matters is local solutions, local empowerment and accountability.
“Measures include $378.6 million for a new redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors from the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory.
“This is more than symbolic. It is important apologies are followed up by action; action by individuals and action collectively to improve education and health services.
“About $250 million will be spent on new or renovated health clinics, housing for health professionals and digital equipment for remote consultations while more than $120 million will go to improving the lives of Indigenous children through better access to quality early childhood education.
“We welcome the $75 million investment in Studio Schools of Australia, a program the Business Council has actively sponsored and supported.
“Studio Schools is a game changing approach to Indigenous education that keeps Indigenous students in their community while giving them access to top teachers and integrates academic skills with practical industry training.
“We now have to aspire to move beyond the language of Closing the Gap to talking about raising the bar and realising people’s potential through delivering greater opportunities.
“The BCA’s purpose is to ensure a strong Australia and prosperity for all Australians. That means that no-one is left behind.
“Today’s announcement of more than $1 billion investment in Closing the Gap initiatives is critical to achieving this because we know today, based on almost any economic, health or social metric indigenous communities are behind.
“Business and the BCA are therefore strongly supportive of the initiatives the government has proposed and believe they are important steps toward improving outcomes for indigenous Australians.
“Raising the bar for Indigenous Australians is a journey and it’s a long one.
“Business stands ready to work alongside government and Indigenous communities to create jobs, indigenous businesses and the conditions to share in the prosperity of the country.
“We also stand firmly alongside Indigenous Australians in their quest for constitutional recognition; an important step to heal the hurt of the past and move forward together as one country.
“We welcome the steps in this process and genuine momentum.’’