• Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has announced new restrictions to four regions in WA to stop the spread of COVID-19 into Aboriginal communities. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Commonwealth government has stepped in to protect a number of regions in Western Australian with high Aboriginal populations.
Rangi Hirini

26 Mar 2020 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2020 - 5:08 PM

A number of Western Australian regions have been closed to protect Aboriginal communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

As of 9pm on Thursday (March 26) restricted access to the entire Kimberley region, the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, and parts of the East Pilbara will be enforced.

The Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku includes  Warburton (Milyirrtjarra), Warakurna, Jameson (Mantamaru), Blackstone (Papulankutja)Wingellina (Irrunytja)Patjarr (Karliywara), Wanarn,Tjirrkarli, Tjukurla, and Kanpa.

East Pilbara includes the communities of Jigalong, Martu homeland communities and Kiwirrkurra.

And all four shires in the Kimberley, The Shires of Broome, Derby-West Kimberley, Halls Creek and Wyndham-East Kimberley. 

With exemptions only to essential services or supplies, or a person who has been quarantined from the general public for 14 days, no one else will be allowed to enter these restricted areas.

These designated areas account for approximately a third of the geographical area of the State and almost 90 per cent of Western Australia’s remote communities and the remote Aboriginal population.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the government will support people who do not had appropriate alternate arrangements to self-isolate.

“There will be exemptions to the travel restrictions for people entering to supply and deliver essential services and Governments are working hard to make sure these essential services and supplies will continue to remote areas,” Mr Wyatt said in a joint statement.

“People already in remote communities should stay there unless it is essential to leave for medical treatment,” he said.

The restrictions for the designated regions are enforceable through emergency determination powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).

A jail term of up to five years could apply to those who breach the determination.

Western Australia’s Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions will continue to apply. 

The State government is seeking funding to support quarantine arrangements, food security and medical services and supplies.