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Is the WA government trying to close Aboriginal communities by stealth?

Collin Barnett, WA Premier

The Western Australian government have launched a reform to fill the void left by the aborted project to close some regional and remote Aboriginal communities.

The WA Australian government launched a reform to fill the void left by the aborted project to close regional and remote Aboriginal communities.

The roadmap, also called Building More Resilient Families and Stronger Communities was presented by the WA government as a reform designed to improve the lives of aboriginal people in Western Australia.

At the core of this project is a proposal to identify up to ten communities by the end of 2016 for upgrades to essential and municipal infrastructure, as well as household metering. The reform also aims to link new housing to jobs and schools, the Government will move away from permanent social housing to quality transitional housing, with access to depend on at least one parent working and 85% school attendance.

Aboriginal families would then be encouraged to move into those upgraded regional towns. Funding to other centres would be reduced or cut.

Andrew Meehan: Proposed reform will starve remote Aboriginal communities  of essential services



But as says Andrew Meehan, Director of ANTaR(Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) the inclusion of funding cuts to remote Aboriginal communities is akin to closing communities by stealth.

He recalls that 18 month ago the Colin Barnett Government had proposed to close some 150 remote Aboriginal communities. This measure caused worldwide condemnation and was abandoned.

Mr Meehan says that if you don’t provide basic services that every other town in Australia takes for granted, then you are essentially closing down that community."

"You may not be removing people physically from those communities but you are basically starving them of essential services that every citizen around the country takes for granted"


Ben Wyatt: remote Aboriginal communities need certainty and security




Ben Wyatt is the Labor Member for Victoria Park currently holds the shadow Aboriginal Affairs portfolio for Western Australia -  with a state election coming up next year in WA.  Living Black Radio sought his comment on the WA governments proposed reform.


Mr Wyatt also believes that the proposed reform will effectively close many communities.

According to him “The overall thrust of the reform agreement seems to be -we’ll fund a limited number of larger regional towns and we’ll encourage aboriginal people to live in those towns rather than the homelands they have been living in for many years-  And that is unacceptable.

Mr Wyatt adds that what the government doesn’t understand is that people live on Country for various reasons. That’s where they’ve been living for thousands of years. It is their country, they may have native title over that country or may have native title pending, or there may be historical reasons why people are where they are.

The Shadow Minister also said that there needs to be a tenure reform to provide certainty and security for Aboriginal people.



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