Media releases

Media releases and statements by Rachel Stephen-Smith

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to respond to COVID-19

May 11, 2020

The ACT Government has allocated $580,000 to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and services during COVID-19.

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Rachel Stephen-Smith said funding will boost the capacity of community-controlled organisations and culturally specific programs to provide services and support during COVID-19.

"Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a range of vulnerabilities which place them disproportionately at risk during this pandemic, including a greater likelihood of having underlying health conditions.

“This funding will support local organisations and programs to continue their vital work, and to respond flexibly to emerging needs within the community.

“Most importantly, it will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to a range of services and support programs that are community controlled, culturally appropriate and specific to the needs of the community.” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation will receive $200,000 to enhance capacity to deliver their youth support services and integrated services for families.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services will receive $100,000 to deliver a range of holistic wellbeing supports for individuals and families. This in addition to almost $250,000 provided to Winnnunga to support its COVID-19 health response.

Relationships Australia Dhunlung Yarra will receive $100,000 to enhance its capacity to provide counselling and conflict resolution services.

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre Nguru Program will receive $75,000 to increase the provision of holistic, culturally appropriate counselling for people who have experienced sexual assault and their families.

Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation and Yeddung Mura Aboriginal Corporation will each receive $20,000 to continue their important work supporting individuals and families, including those who are or have been engaged with the justice system.

A total of $65,000 will also be available for grass roots organisations to support activities that support connection to culture and mental health. This includes support for funerals and Sorry Business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Work to identify the most appropriate organisations to receive or distribute these funds will continue in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“This funding acknowledges the strength of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and organisations and the work that has already been happening to support the community during COVID-19.

“We know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the experts in recognising and responding to the needs of their community. This funding will further enable these organisations to respond appropriately and effectively to current and emerging needs as COVID-19 unfolds.

“Thank you to the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, services and community members who have been working alongside the ACT Government to plan and prepare our response to COVID-19,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

This funding complements the $250,000 announced earlier this week for targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention initiatives.

Quote attributable to Kim Davison, Executive Director Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation:

“Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation welcomes and appreciates the support during COVID-19, many families here in the ACT are struggling for basic services, not only financially, but being able to get to supports and basic food has been a challenge.

“Gugan sees many families struggle on a daily basis, and being able to provide extra supports during these trying times will hopefully alleviate some of the pressures.”

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