Vi­sion for groups to act as one

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

The Roe­bourne com­mu­nity has re­ceived a glimpse into a plan be­ing for­mu­lated for non-govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions’ op­er­a­tions and con­tri­bu­tions to Pil­bara towns.

At a com­mu­nity meet­ing on Sun­day evening, con­sul­tancy Bank of I.D.E.A.S.’ di­rec­tor Peter Kenyon briefed at­ten­dees on his work to de­velop a 10-year plan to en­hance NGO con­tri­bu­tions and sus­tain­abil­ity in the Pil­bara.

Mr Kenyon said the over­whelm­ing is­sue was a lack of col­lab­o­ra­tion and co-op­er­a­tion.

“Many NGOs can seem like a col­lec­tion of war­ring tribes and Govern­ment tends to re­in­force that through things like com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing and so on, so ev­ery­one is forced into a po­si­tion to com­pete for at­ten­tion,” he said.

“I think a lot of de­ci­sions made af­fect­ing NGOs are made in Perth and Can­berra and they don’t re­ally un­der­stand Pil­bara re­al­i­ties, it’s a dif­fer­ent world here.

“I think what we are also dis­cov­er­ing is there is a whole pile of things not well catered for — we saw tonight that men­tal health right across the Pil­bara has come up as a ma­jor is­sue.” Mr Kenyon said de­clin­ing fi­nan­cial and staffing re­sources were an­other is­sue that needed ad­dress­ing in the Pil­bara.

“A mes­sage we’ve heard is many are re­ally strug­gling to find peo­ple to put up their hands to go on com­mit­tees,” he said.

The 10-year plan was de­vel­oped in re­sponse to a rec­om­men­da­tion from a “map and gap” anal­y­sis of the NGO sec­tor con­ducted in 2012 by Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Pil­bara and the Pil­bara De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion.

Yind­jibarndi el­der Toot­sie Daniels said peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions com­ing to places such as Roe­bourne needed to learn how to ap­proach Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties.

“To come into a com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially where Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple have never been in­cluded in any­thing, might be good for us be­cause it is com­ing through Govern­ment and we can all have our say,” she said.

“Who­ever is com­ing here al­ways needs to work be­side an el­der and some­one who is lo­cal, who knows

the lan­guage. If we are go­ing to make changes it has to be some­thing that needs to be changed.”

One pos­i­tive Mr Kenyon noted was the for­ma­tion of a com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion to give Roe­bourne a stronger voice and lead­er­ship.

“It is par­tic­u­larly hard in a com­mu­nity like Roe­bourne be­cause there are so many groups here — who do you speak to?” he said.

“It’s com­plex here … that’s why this as­so­ci­a­tion is so valu­able.

“I can’t prom­ise this will make a new world for Roe­bourne … but when we come to­gether and sim­ply lis­ten to each other … I think things start to hap­pen.”

Roe­bourne Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Michael Nikakis said the group was pro­gress­ing “one step at a time”, but still had big ob­sta­cles to over­come.

“We have a very big bridge to over­come and that is peo­ple’s con­fi­dence be­cause they’ve got a his­tory of be­ing asked, told and said they’re be­ing lis­tened to — but they haven’t been,” he said.

“It’s go­ing to take a long time … but it’s a tran­si­tion of peo­ple be­liev­ing in them­selves.

“With time maybe we can form a re­la­tion­ship with agen­cies and it be­comes more eq­ui­table both ways.”

A draft re­port on NGO ser­vices in the Pil­bara is ex­pected to be com­pleted in late April.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Perera

Pil­bara District Po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Coombes.

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