Historic upgrades for remote communities

Wed 21 December, 2016

Ten remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia are set to receive upgrades to power, water and municipal services in an historic move to improve living conditions for Aboriginal people.

The communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara will be the first of the State’s larger communities to participate in a long-term program to progressively bring basic services up to minimum standards.

The Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program is a major initiative of regional services reform and a priority action in the Resilient Families; Strong Communities roadmap.

Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman said in many remote Aboriginal communities, poor living conditions negatively affected the health of residents, and their participation in school and work.

“The State Government believes that living conditions can be improved through mutual accountability between households, communities and government,” he said.

“Our contribution is a significant investment in upgrades to power, water, wastewater and municipal infrastructure. In turn, individual households will be metered and charged for power and water services.”

The first 10 communities to participate in the program were selected based on principles outlined in the roadmap, which 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.

The communities are:

Kimberley – Ardyaloon, Bayulu, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Djarindjin, Lombadina, Mowanjum and Warmun

Pilbara - Wakathuni and Yandeyarra

Together, the 10 communities comprise more than 20 per cent of the total population of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

Bidyadanga chief executive officer Tania Baxter said the program was a significant step towards the remote Aboriginal community, 180 km south of Broome, becoming more prosperous and sustainable.

“In 10 to 20 years’ time we would like to see Bidyadanga become more like Broome, with residents having the same living conditions, services and opportunities,” she said.

“Improved essential services and better roads and public open spaces will not only have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of residents, but more possibilities will open up for our community and it will have greater economic potential.”

State reform leader Grahame Searle said the Regional Services Reform Unit had consulted with leaders and council members of each of the 10 communities to confirm their interest in participating in the program.

He said the reform unit would work with the communities to develop a plan for each for the upgrades. Consultation and planning would take place over the next 18 months, with capital works expected to begin from July 2018.

Bidyadanga is one of the first 10 remote Aboriginal communities set to benefit from improvements to essential and municipal services.

All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Last reviewed: 21 Dec 2016