Voices raised as Indigenous gap persists

·2-min read

There are concerns billion-dollar companies are getting paid to create jobs for Indigenous workers while small businesses scream out for more staff.

Labor enator Malarndirri McCarthy told a Senate estimates hearing on Friday she is concerned public funding is ill-directed.

"You have much smaller businesses who are struggling and need those grants," she said.

Officials confirmed the Argyle cattle station in the Kimberley was getting taxpayer money under the work for the dole program.

"We've got 40,000 people here on a CDP program who want to have good jobs," Senator McCarthy said.

"There are people out there who are going hungry. They need to be able to look after their families."

Some 5148 welfare recipients have moved from the community development program (CDP) into full-time jobs so far this financial year.

A package targeting the Northern Territory and Western Australia has only created 400 of 1000 jobs.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have had their say on an Indigenous voice to the federal government.

Senior public servant Ray Griggs says their recommendations will go to government in the middle of the year.

"With close to 3000 submissions and over 1000 survey responses this is one of the most comprehensive consultations undertaken in the Indigenous portfolio in recent years," Mr Griggs told the committee.

More than 9400 people have contributed to 115 public consultation sessions at 67 places around the country - half of which were in remote Australia.

There were also almost 120 meetings with key stakeholders and 13 online seminars.

Most of the submissions supported a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution, in contrast to the prime minister's view there is "no clear consensus" on constitutional recognition.

Scott Morrison says the government's refreshed efforts to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on education, jobs and family violence will make a big difference.

Public servants will also speed up reporting on Aboriginal deaths in custody, after another nine so far this year.

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