De­mand for State Govt ac­tion on Pil­bara is­sues

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

Op­po­si­tion Leader Mark McGowan has called for the State Gov­ern­ment to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to ad­dress is­sues with hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing at re­mote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties in the Pil­bara.

Dur­ing a trip to the re­gion ear­lier this month, Mr McGowan said he be­lieved he could ad­dress the is­sues in at least two com­mu­ni­ties in a week flat if he was pre­mier.

“It’s pretty clear what needs to be done and I don’t need a com­mit­tee to tell me how to do it, I would just take ac­tion,” he said.

“We went to a com­mu­nity yes­ter­day where there was a 100 peo­ple crowded into 10 old houses… so the peo­ple don’t have ac­cess to a de­cent op­por­tu­nity to sleep or work.

“It’s a pretty easy fix, I’d or­der some more houses and make sure there was some so­lar power in the com­mu­nity so they had ac­cess to re­li­able power.”

Mr McGowan said the Gov­ern­ment needed to pro­vide hope and op­por­tu­nity for Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties around the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and train­ing.

“There’s a lot of spec­u­la­tion of what the pop­u­la­tion in the Pil­bara will be in the long term… but one group that is al­ways go­ing to be here and al­ways be grow­ing is the in­dige­nous com­mu­nity,” he said. “If you pro­vide hope and op­por­tu­nity, you then start to di­min­ish the ap­peal of al­co­hol and the loss of con­fi­dence of peo­ple in their own ca­pac­ity for the fu­ture.”

“Con­nect­ing the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple through train­ing with ma­jor em­ploy­ers has to be a prin­ci­pal com­po­nent of the long-term so­lu­tion.”

Mr McGowan said many Pil­bara com­mu­ni­ties still feared forced clo­sures by the State Gov­ern­ment.

“Whilst the Pre­mier might have back­tracked and set up this Re­gional Ser­vices Re­form, it has come from a bad place and is pro­gress­ing far too slowly,” he said.

“I fear it’s more of a talk­fest, rather than de­liv­er­ing real eco­nomic ben­e­fits to Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.”

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Terry Red­man said wide con­sul­ta­tion was in progress through­out the Kim­ber­ley and Pil­bara through the Re­gional Ser­vices Re­form pro­gram.

“$4.9 bil­lion was spent by State and Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ments on Abo­rig­i­nal af­fairs in 2012-13 but de­spite this ex­pen­di­ture, eco­nomic and so­cial out­comes for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple re­main un­ac­cept­ably poor,” he said.

Mr Red­man said eight Abo­rig­i­nal lead­ers had been ap­pointed to the Strate­gic Re­gional Ad­vi­sory Coun­cils and would meet in De­cem­ber to help guide the Re­form.

Pic­ture: Court­ney Fowler

WA La­bor Leader Mark McGowan with La­bor Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Stephen Daw­son MLC dur­ing his visit to the Pil­bara.

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