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Questions remain over remote services reform

Dec 21, 2016

A State Government announcement outlining funding for 10 priority remote communities delivers more questions than answers, according to Kimberley Land Council Chairman Anthony Watson.

Mr Watson said the KLC welcomes investment in the 10 identified communities, but called on the government to make clear its plans for the future of all remote Aboriginal communities in WA.

“I welcome the State Government’s acknowledgement that remote communities require investment for upgrades to essential services,” Mr Watson said.

“Many of our communities require upgrades to water and power, and all communities need access to these essential services maintained.

“What remains unclear is what this means for those communities that have been left off this list. By prioritising some communities, it may mean that the State Government is deprioritising others.

“I encourage the State Government to provide more details about the future of the communities not identified in this list.”

Mr Watson said one of the more pleasing aspects of the announcement was a commitment in the State Government’s press release that “all other remote Aboriginal communities that currently receive Government support for essential and municipal services will continue to do so”.

“Aboriginal people must be assured that they will not be abandoned and that government support for essential and municipal services will be maintained,” he said.

“I now call on the government to make clear how this funding will continue to be provided in the long-term.”

Mr Watson said there is important value in Aboriginal people living on country, working on country, and exercising their native title rights.

“This has been highlighted by the success of the Indigenous Ranger Program, which is delivering significant environmental, social and economic benefits,” he said.

“If people have to leave their smaller communities and move into the larger communities or towns then the very real issues of overcrowding, lack of housing and minimal job opportunities remain.

“We are keen to work with the State Government to find solutions that will give remote communities a sustainable future.”