The Regional Services Reform Unit is consulting with remote Aboriginal communities about future essential and municipal service delivery arrangements in accordance with the principles in the roadmap.
The State Government has identified the first 10 communities with which it will work to upgrade essential and municipal infrastructure and introduce commensurate charges.
Existing delivery arrangements for basic services
Existing arrangements for delivering essential services (power, water and wastewater) and municipal services (such as road maintenance and rubbish collection) in remote Aboriginal communities are unusual and ad hoc.
Usual regulatory standards do not apply.
With the exception of a few remote communities that receive Horizon Power services, normal utility providers are absent.
No household in a remote Aboriginal community has its own water meter and account with the Water Corporation. While some have an electricity meter, the charges are below those that apply in other areas.
Infrastructure in many communities is unreliable and over-stretched, and in some cases, unsafe.
These arrangements in many instances contribute to poor health and wellbeing.
The State Government recognises that the living conditions of families in remote Aboriginal communities must improve through mutual accountability between households, communities and government.
- Residents must maintain their house and pay the bills
- In larger communities, governments should provide essential, municipal and housing services
Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program
In July 2016, the State Government committed in the regional services reform roadmap to progressively bring basic services in remote Aboriginal communities up to minimum standards.
Government funding for improvements will be sequenced over time by prioritising communities that have strong community leadership on education and employment; business or work opportunities; the capacity to be used as a service hub; and no natural limitations on growth.
Benefits for communities will include:
- more reliable water and power supply
- improved drinking water and environmental health
- essential and municipal services infrastructure that meets minimum standards
- consumer protections that apply elsewhere in Western Australia
- more opportunities for local jobs and training
In turn, individual households will be metered and charged for power and water services.
Collectively, these communities comprise more than 20 per cent of the total population of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
The Regional Services Reform Unit is working with the first 10 communities to develop a plan for each community for the upgrades. Planning and scoping of the upgrades are taking place in 2017-18, with capital works to start in 2018-19.
The Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program is being undertaken in three stages:
Stage 1 – Infrastructure audits
Throughout 2017/18, the State Government will carry out audits of essential and municipal services infrastructure in the first 10 communities to participate in the program.
This stage also involves: reviewing the land tenure arrangements in each community; identifying the support needed for communities to strengthen administration; and exploring ways that future infrastructure upgrades and service delivery can generate employment and skills training for residents.
This stage of the program will result in the development of tailored community plans for the upgrade of essential and municipal services infrastructure.
Stage 2 – Infrastructure upgrades and service delivery
Starting in late-2018, the State Government will progressively begin repairing and/or replacing essential and municipal services infrastructure in the first 10 communities.
This includes remediation work on issues identified in the community infrastructure audits. Work is expected to start between July and November 2018.
This stage will also see the roll out of improved arrangements for the delivery of power, water and wastewater. New standards for municipal services will be developed and introduced to improve accountability and delivery.
Stage 3 – Future work
The program is a long-term initiative that will see the State Government ensure minimum standards for essential and municipal services are being met in larger remote Aboriginal communities over time. Funding for the program beyond 2019-20 will be determined in future State Government budgets.