More economic opportunities for Aboriginal people in regional and remote Western Australia has emerged as a major theme of the State Government’s consultation with remote Aboriginal communities.
Visiting the Kimberley today, Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman said on-the-ground consultation to discuss the regional services reform roadmap was a good way for communities to share their vision of the future and for government to consider how that vision could be supported.
“The Regional Services Reform Unit has travelled to more than 100 of WA’s 274 remote Aboriginal communities this year to discuss the roadmap and better understand local priorities,” the Minister said.
“These communities have ranged from those with hundreds of residents such as Bidyadanga and Ardyaloon in the West Kimberley to remote outstations like Tirralintji in the East Kimberley that have fewer than 10 residents.
“What the team has heard is that Aboriginal people want their communities to prosper but they recognise that this means being sustainable and economically viable.
“The level of economic opportunity in regional and remote parts of WA varies enormously - the key is to ensure that jobs and business opportunities are available because they are drivers of family and community wellbeing.”
Other priorities raised by remote communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara have included resolving land tenure obstacles; better service coordination for families with complex needs; jobs in communities for skilled local people; access to mental health and drug and alcohol services; and maintaining connection to country and culture.
State reform leader Grahame Searle said consultation with remote communities was an important stage of regional services reform and would help the State Government understand the unique circumstances of each community.
"Consultation with remote Aboriginal communities is continuing in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields and will begin in the Mid-West before the end of the year," he said. "It is expected that all remote communities in WA will be visited by the Regional Services Reform Unit by early 2017.
"This first stage of consultation is just the beginning. Many Aboriginal communities will be consulted more than once, particularly those that may be involved in projects outlined in the regional services reform roadmap, such as essential and municipal services upgrades."
Minister Redman and Mr Searle discuss the roadmap with residents of the Bayulu community in the Fitzroy Valley.