• The small town in the Pilbara plans to take back control after a controversial 2017. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The Pilbara town of Roebourne became the centre of a media storm last year after 44 people were charged with hundreds of child sex offences. Now the town is trying to take back control.
By
Rangi Hirini

20 Feb 2018 - 9:44 AM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2018 - 9:44 AM

A men’s shelter, safe houses, and a nightly curfew are all a part of the Western Australia’s government plan to tackle the fallout from the Roebourne sex abuse scandal and help heal the community.

Since the scandal last year the community has been working together to establish the “6718 Advantage” strategy.

The state government has been working on this local initiative and hopes that with their ‘West Pilbara Plan’ it will address the intergenerational disadvantage and history of child sexual abuse in and around the town.

Ngarluma elder, Uncle  David Walker spoke with NITV News. He said the new plan has involved elders of the community and their involvement will change his people’s lives.

“The (6718) plan is getting back to leadership and culture,” he said.

“The only way I see it (change) happening is through the old people and the Yadiba (senior cultural elders).”

Uncle David said many young people in the Pilbara town are stuck between two worlds, the new world of technology and traditional ways.

“That’s where the problem is, the other world, they seem to relate to that more easier than the old world,” he explained.

“I see that because I was different, I only had one world- now they have two worlds and it’s difficult, the other world is so easy- all the different things that’s introduced- it’s what they enjoy it.

“[But] we’re working really hard on that and get them off that track, there’s a better way and there’s a better life,” Uncle told NITV News.

Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Organisation is a 45-year-old Aboriginal not-for-profit organisation based in Roebourne.

The organisation had been working on the 6718 plan before the McGowan government announced its support.

A spokesperson for Ngarliyarndu Bindirri said no government plan is going to work by itself and the community of Roebourne will need to step up to the plate.

“We can’t go 100 per cent with culture and we can’t go 100 per cent wadejella (white fulla) way… There needs to be a reconciliation and respect of white fuella way and cultural way,” she told told NITV News.

Uncle David echoed this and said if the town doesn’t bring back the old way, the cultural way, it’s going to be hard for his people to heal.

The Ngarliyarndu Bindirri spokesperson also said the town feels encouraged that the new state government is listening to them and is happy to see some of the recommendations by locals being implemented in this new plan.

“The leadership of Roebourne has a plan and we have been working on it for some years.. this is a big win,” she said.

The government’s plan focuses more on children their wellbeing and education, and tackling drug and alcohol issues.

Some of the other services the state government will be implanting into Roebourne include a residential facility to support family and cultural healing, 10 safe houses, specialized drug and alcohol services for youth, more activities for youth, night patrols targeting the younger generations, a men’s shelter and industrial training and job pathways.

Minister for Child Protection, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence and Community Services, Simone McGurk said the West Pilbara Plan is about working with the community and alongside them.

"We need to do this with the community of Roebourne, not to them - we know that a government imposed response will never be as effective as one owned by the community."