Transformation for town-based reserves

Wed 27 July, 2016

Town-based reserves across Western Australia are set to be transformed as part of the State Government’s regional services reform.

The Government plans to progressively improve the living conditions of almost 3,000 Aboriginal people living on town-based reserves near 20 regional towns across the State.

The work is beginning in the Pilbara, with $20 million allocated to consult with the 320 residents of eight town-based reserves about a better future for their communities.

State reform leader Grahame Searle said improving conditions for town-based reserve residents was a priority action in the regional services reform roadmap.

“Town-based reserves were typically set up decades ago to accommodate Aboriginal people who had moved off country and pastoral stations into towns,” Mr Searle said.

“Although the reserves are located in or next to towns, few households receive local government services or pay local government rates, Water Corporation services typically stop at the reserve boundary, and residents cannot own their own homes.

“Regional services reform aims to ensure that residents of town-based reserves receive the same services, and be subject to the same payment responsibilities, as the other residents of the relevant town.”

Mr Searle said consultation would consider whether to extend services and payment obligations to current homes or support residents to relocate to other parts of the town, to help ensure they could fully participate in town and region-wide opportunities.

Consultation will lead to the development of individual, tailored plans for the future of each town-based reserve.

“The circumstances of each town-based reserve are different and each plan will need to be appropriate to the context of the community,” Mr Searle said. “There will not be a one size fits all approach or response.”

The Pilbara project is being led by the Pilbara Development Commission in partnership with the Regional Services Reform Unit and is funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

The Regional Services Reform Unit has begun discussions with stakeholders and communities in the West Kimberley about the four town-based reserves in Derby.

Town-based reserves such as Tjalka Boorda in Port Hedland will be consulted about their future.

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Last reviewed: 03 Aug 2016