An infrastructure audit in the East Kimberley has revealed more than 20 Aboriginal communities are in dire need of maintenance in order to be liveable.
The audit, undertaken by Kimberley-based Aboroiginal organisation Miriuwung and Gajerrong Corporation (MGC) its subsidiary MGC Building and Maintenance (MGCBM) found many of the 25 communities did not have basic necessities, including running water, functioning toilets, electricity or access to waste and rubbish disposal.
When the coronavirus pandemic first began in Western Australia, the WA government granted a number of Aboriginal organisations funding to support the relocation of people into remote communities across the state.
MG Corporation, executive chair Lawford Benning said relocating people into communities without the basic essentials poses a severe risk to their health and safety.
“People who have done the right thing and returned to their communities as instructed are now living out there in very poor conditions, with no running water, toilets, or habitable buildings,” Mr Benning said in a statement.
“Some of the smaller communities are not usually occupied, meaning they don’t have any working facilities, and the only option for people returning is to camp in tents. It is not good enough that Aboriginal people are being forced to live in these conditions in this day and age,” he said.
The communities most dire in need of maintenance included Ningbing, Kneebone, Kumbarumba, Worreworrem, Alligator Hole and Goose Hill, with $50,000 needed immediately to make them safe.
Some of the communities are on Miriuwung and Gajerrong land and are owned by MG Corporation, while others are on Crown land. Mr Benning said MG Corporation was willing to advise governments on how to address the issues in Aboriginal communities.
In 2018, Western Australia was granted a once-off payment of by the Commonwealth government of $121 million, following the expiration of the 10-year, $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing.
At the time of the announcement, the Commonwealth Government said this will be their final funding contribution before State Government has to take over complete responsibility for WA's remote housing.
NITV News reached out to Western Australia's housing minister for comment.