Senator slams reform plan
The State Government’s regional services reform package will lead to increased financial hardship and more pressure on underfunded indigenous legal services, according to Labor Senator Patrick Dodson.
Mr Dodson slammed the reforms for “pussyfooting” around the issue of remote community closures. He said whichever way you looked at the reforms package it was hard to see communities not closing.
“I have no doubts this is about emptying the country out of its people,” he said.
“It’s not helpful after all that history, that government, because of problems they have with financial management, penalises the Aboriginal people by forcing them to ultimately leave their homelands and go live somewhere else.”
Mr Dodson said people who moved to town-based reserves would struggle to meet the everyday financial demands of living in town and could become a target for income management schemes.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman, who is leading the reforms process, said there was adequate funding available, but it needed to be better directed.
“The thing I would argue is there is more than enough money in the mix when you look at the total amount of resources which goes into supporting services in the communities,” he said.
“I think we do have to be smarter, sharper, and engage with the body corporates who have got a level of capacity in many communities to use that level as a platform to support service delivery.
“We’re now going to be mapping the Pilbara and the Kimberley to see what resources go in and just what we’re getting for those resources.”
Mr Redman rubbished Mr Dodson’s suggestions that people would have to move off their country.
“I think there is enough evidence in what we are saying so far that we are dinkum about investment and we’re dinkum about getting change, but that can only happen in concert with Aboriginal people,” he said.
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Simon Hawkins said the roadmap needed to have a greater level of transparency.
“The reality is the town-based reserves and the larger communities the Government wants to focus on means the smaller communities will have to fend for themselves,” he said.
Mr Hawkins said YMAC had been disappointed by the lack of access to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier.
Terry Redman watches some traditional dancing at Yule River.
Labor Senator Patrick Dodson speaks about regional services reform at the Yule River meeting.