’Government still failing to listen’
■ North West Aboriginal leaders have highlighted a significant lack of trust in politicians, which they say is worsened by heritage and remote community issues now being debated by State Government.
Speaking late last month at the Yule River meeting near Port Hedland, Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chairwoman Doris Eaton said the Government was failing to close the gap because they still weren’t listening.
“The Government will continue to fail us until they start really listening,” she said. “Hopefully we make (Yule River) the talking place (with ministers) like the old people did.
“Here I am — the next generation I’m still fighting for basic equality. How many generations will come after me before this happens?”
Ms Eaton said if indigenous people did not come together to fight for their rights, no one would do it for them.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said comments at the Yule River meeting confirmed to him there was a serious lack of trust in government by indigenous people. “That has a history and I don’t pretend to be able to put together all the reasons as to why people don’t trust us,” he said.
“Hopefully our presence here, looking these people in the eye and answering the questions they have, hopefully they have an appreciation of where we’re coming from, but also an appreciation of our desire to genuinely engage to get a better outcome.”
Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Ben Wyatt said Premier Colin Barnett’s rhetoric about remote communities added to the disdain towards politicians.
“Mr Barnett poisoned the waters of goodwill so now a lot of people here are suspicious of the Government’s motives,” he said.
“Out of all the ministers I think it is probably Terry Redman who has the most capacity to try to bring it back.
“There is a huge frustration that still exists that government still isn’t consulting with Aboriginal people in a way that is getting broad consensus.”
Kimberley Land Council deputy chief executive Tyronne Barstone said Mr Redman had been proactive in “changing the dialogue” about remote communities since Mr Barnett’s original comments last year.