Beyond what Reform Unit members heard and is reported in this document, we observed a range of things during the consultation process.
One key observation was the consultation fatigue we experienced in communities in all regions. Community members told us they were tired of being asked for their views, only for those views to be ignored. This led some leaders to question our authenticity and authority to make change. Others simply asked “what are you going to do with this information?” Many community leaders told us meaningful and on-going engagement is key to the empowerment of their community in the decision-making process.
It was also clear to us that past government policies and statements have resulted in a mistrust of government by Aboriginal people. This wariness of government made open and honest conversations difficult for some communities, especially in regards to sensitive issues.
That said, some communities spoke openly and freely about issues relating to mental health, drugs and alcohol, cultural leadership, corrective services, fines and enforcement, and child protection. In other communities these topics were avoided, including in places where the Reform Unit was aware, through government held data, that those issues are prevalent. In those places, further trust would need to be built through subsequent discussions before those sensitive issues could be discussed and tackled.
The communities and people to whom we spoke expect government to take their insights seriously, listen to what was said and partner with Aboriginal people to develop community-driven solutions. Empowering and supporting Aboriginal people to make change is critical in improving life outcomes.
The process of genuine, on-going engagement with Aboriginal people in regional and remote areas must continue. The next steps for reform provide an opportunity to continue these important conversations.
The State Government will release a response to these consultation findings in 2017-18, aimed at identifying the next steps for engagement and the priority actions for the State.
|Download the full report 'Resilient Families, Strong Communities: Key insights from consultation with remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia’
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