Australia's indigenous people won't survive without a new commitment to jobs and education, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

Mr Abbott was in Sydney on Wednesday to announce a coalition government would match the Labor government's $5 million for the Jawun Empowered Communities program.

The program currently operates in Cape York, the NSW Central Coast, Sydney, Goulburn-Murray, East Kimberley, West Kimberley, APY/NPY Lands and North East Arnhem Land.

Funded by government and corporate donors, it runs a range of projects from indigenous leadership training to welfare reform and small business creation.

Mr Abbott said progress was being made in indigenous communities, but much more needed to be done.

"The kids need to go to school, the adults need to go to work, the ordinary law of the land needs to be respected," Mr Abbott said.

"And if all of that happens then the oldest living cultures on this earth have a fighting chance of survival.

"But there is no serious chance of survival if the people who live the life fall into this pit of despair, this pit of hopelessness which has for so many people beckoned over the last couple of generations."

Mr Abbott has previously promised to kick-start the campaign to recognise indigenous people in the Australian constitution and spent a week a year doing voluntary work in a remote community.

He would also take the indigenous affairs portfolio into the department of prime minister and cabinet.

 

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