Frequently asked questions

How many remote Aboriginal communities are in Western Australia?

There are about 274 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

How populated are these communities?

The State Government's best estimation is that:

  • 69 communities have no permanent residents
  • 60 communities have fewer than 10 residents
  • 91 communities have 10 to 49 residents
  • 19 communities have 50 to 99 residents
  • 19 communities have 100 to 199 residents
  • 16 communities have more than 200 residents
Where are Western Australia's remote Aboriginal communities?

The majority or Western Australia's remote Aboriginal communities are in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. The remainder are in the Goldfields and Mid-West.

  • Kimberley – 221 communities
  • Pilbara – 24 communities
  • Goldfields (incl. Ngaanyatjarra Lands) – 18 communities
  • Mid-West – 11 communities
How remote are these communities?

Remoteness varies. Some remote communities are 10 kilometres from the nearest town and others are 500 kilometres from the nearest town, with no sealed road between.

The average distance from a remote community to the nearest town is 200 kilometres (and some of those nearest towns are themselves small and remote).

Will the State Government close any remote Aboriginal communities?

No, the State Government has made a commitment to not close any remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

Will residents of remote communities be asked to leave their communities?

No, residents of remote Aboriginal communities can choose where they want to live.

Will basic services be provided to all remote communities?

The State Government will work progressively to meet minimum standards for basic (essential and municipal) services in larger remote Aboriginal communities.

Eighty per cent of remote Aboriginal residents live in the largest 50 communities.

Investment in these communities will be sequenced by giving priority to those that offer the greatest prospect of long-term sustainability due to better economies of scale and demand.

Improvements will be made to essential services (power and water) and appropriate municipal services (such as road maintenance and rubbish disposal).

Some smaller remote communities that currently receive modest government support, such as an annual diesel subsidy, may not be eligible for continued support.

These smaller communities are mostly outstations and they will be assisted by the State Government to become self-supporting.

How many remote communities currently receive State Government support for basic services?

The State Government supports essential and municipal service delivery in about 165 of Western Australia’s 274 remote Aboriginal communities.

Not all of these communities receive the same type of support. They receive different levels and combinations of support depending on a number of factors, including their size.

Support can range from electricity supply and distribution to a diesel fuel subsidy for small communities to run a generator.

Will these be a cost for the provision of basic services to communities?

Yes, residents of remote communities will be required to pay for the basic services that are provided to the community, for example: power and water utility charges.

All other West Australians are required to pay for these basic services.

Are any remote Aboriginal communities currently self-supporting?

Yes, about 110 of Western Australia’s 274 remote communities are already self-supporting and do not receive any funding or services from the State Government.

Many of these communities have been self-supporting for 30 years or more.

These communities are mostly outstations that have very few or no permanent residents. They may use generators for electricity, have a septic tank and rely on bores and rain water for water supply.

How will the State Government help smaller communities become self-supporting?

The assistance provided by the State Government will vary depending on the circumstances of each community. For example: it could mean one-off funding for a solar array to provide electricity or financial assistance to move a bore to a more sustainable water source.

The State Government has identified the first 10 Aboriginal communities to receive upgrades to essential and municipal infrastructure. Which communities are they and how were they selected?

The first 10 communities to participate in the Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program are in the Kimberley and Pilbara, where the majority of remote Aboriginal residents live. Collectively, they comprise more than 20 per cent of the total population of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

The communities are:

The first 10 communities were selected based on principles outlined in the State Government’s regional services reform roadmap. These principles include strong community leadership on education and employment; business or work opportunities; the capacity for the community to be used as a service hub; and no natural limitations on growth.

Will any larger remote communities be turned into regional towns?

The State Government will consult with a small number of larger economically sustainable Aboriginal communities about whether they want to become a regional town.

The advantages of a remote community being classified as a regional town include better community servicing and future investment.

A principle of the roadmap is that Aboriginal people can ‘maintain links to country, culture and kin’. What does this mean?

The State Government recognises the importance for many Aboriginal people of land, cultural practice and family. Aboriginal people will not be prevented from living remotely or continuing to access country for cultural purposes.

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