The Queensland government will offer Indigenous councils in the state more than $41.2 million in grants for the delivery of general and essential public services, according to local government minister Stirling Hinchliffe.
Hinchliffe on Tuesday said the three annual funding programs were crucial to ensuring council operations continue.
“They allow councils to keep their communities moving forward as well as helping to maintain jobs in their local workforces,” he said.
“The grants also show what can be achieved when both tiers of government work together for the benefit of local communities.”
The annual State Government Financial Aid program, which was designed to help 16 Indigenous councils cover the cost of delivering local government services, has been increased by more than $880,000 for 2020-21.
Eligible councils include Torres Strait Island Regional Council — which serves 15 island communities — Aurukun Shire Council in a remote part of Cape York, and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, located in Far North Queensland.
Hinchliffe said this program played a “vital role” for communities, as the councils cannot raise revenue through rates.
“This program will see almost $36.3 million for services such as transport and communication, health, recreation and culture, public order and safety, education and public amenities,” he said.
“The funding also helps councils build towards stronger financial sustainability. Economies across the world have been dealt a blow by the pandemic and our Indigenous communities and councils are no different.”
The Queensland government banned Indigenous councils from holding liquor licences in 2008. Hinchliffe noted the Revenue Replacement Program would provide a total of $3.525m to nine councils that gave up profitable general liquor licences.
“The health and wellbeing of the communities is a paramount concern and this program acknowledges those councils that have taken a positive step towards alcohol reduction,” he said.
Finally, the Indigenous Economic Development Grant would provide $1.44 million to 15 councils to maintain local government jobs, giving “employees certainty in their positions, as well as having a positive impact on the lives of their families”.