More than 300 Aboriginal people from across the Pilbara, Murchison and Gascoyne regions converged on Yule River yesterday to discuss regional services reform.
Hosted by Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, the third annual Yule River on-country meeting was attended by traditional owners, Aboriginal corporations and State and federal government representatives.
Regional Services Reform Unit director Chad Stewart said discussions at the meeting focused on continuing collaboration between government and Aboriginal people.
“Regional services reform is a journey towards long-term and systemic change for Aboriginal people in regional and remote Western Australia,” he said.
“What we heard at Yule River was that Aboriginal families and communities want to be front and centre in the reform process and they want to walk on this journey with government.
“The State Government understands that collaboration is critical to success. We are having many conversations with Aboriginal communities, corporations and leaders throughout the State about what is working and what isn’t.”
Mr Stewart said the need for genuine consultation with Aboriginal people was a strong message at last year’s Yule River meeting.
Since then the Regional Services Reform Unit had established a Strategic Regional Advisory Council in the Pilbara, which comprised local Aboriginal advisers.
It had also begun consultation with Aboriginal communities to discuss the priorities identified in the regional services reform roadmap.
These priorities included working with community leaders and organisations in Roebourne to co-design a reorientation of government-funded services.
This project involved developing town-based strategies to tackle community priorities (such as youth, education and safety) and measuring local impact and change.
“Roebourne community leaders and organisations are willing and motivated to lead and drive changes at the local level,” Mr Stewart said.
The $20 million Pilbara town-based reserves project was another priority for the Pilbara region and consultation with town-based reserve residents would soon begin.
(L-R) Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, Labor Senator Pat Dodson, Regional Development Minister Terry Redman and Yamatji Marlpa CEO Simon Hawkins at the Yule River meeting.