Roadmap attracts criticism
The representative body for the Pilbara’s indigenous groups is disappointed by the lack of detail in the much-hyped remote services reform roadmap announced by the State Government last week.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman and Child Protection Minister Helen Morton revealed a swathe of sweeping statements and funding commitments, including $175 million for housing tied to education and employment outcomes in remote communities.
Among the key points were moves to identify up to 10 communities to focus infrastructure and services spending on by the end of the year and creating more employment for indigenous people in the public sector.
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Simon Hawkins said it was good to hear some commentary from Government, but a thorough discussion paper needed to be released to get feedback from Aboriginal people.
“If you’re going to stop providing services to communities, you are effectively closing them, so we are back to the original comment Tony Abbott made,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone says there shouldn’t be reform to save money and improve resource delivery.
“But if that means you are going to force people off their land when you put them there in the first place, and you are going to remove their ability to have connection to their country, which is a key part of their wellbeing, then you have some serious issues which have to be discussed. We have a media release about broad-ranging commentary but where’s the research, where’s the data, where’s the discussion paper?”
Mr Hawkins said the Yule River meeting in September could provide critical feedback for the Government if a discussion paper
was released in time. Mr Redman said regional forums such as Yule River were an important mechanism for consultation.
“The discussions held at that meeting, as well as at other regional forums in the Pilbara and Kimberley, have informed the development of the regional services reform roadmap,” he said.
“The State Government will continue to engage with this forum to progress the priority actions identified in the roadmap.”
Mr Redman said strong leaders, safety of children, limitations to growth such as access to water, work opportunities and effective governance would all be considered when deciding which communities the State Government would work with.
Shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt said he hoped the roadmap would lead to a more rational dialogue between Government and indigenous people.
“Positively, it moves away from the Colin Barnett rhetoric of overtly wanting to close Aboriginal communities around Western Australia,” he said.
Mr Wyatt said he was pleased to see commitments to help communities become self sustainable.