Demand for State Govt action on Pilbara issues
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.
WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan with Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Stephen Dawson MLC during his visit to the Pilbara.