Small stations see cuts in WA
The WA Government has released its long-awaited plan for remote Aboriginal communities.
There has been a steady stream of criticism flung at the Barnett Government since it announced to review of provisions for WA's 274 Aboriginal communities.
The Government had warned it could not afford to fund all the communities any longer, and some would have to be closed.
The report released on Thursday says funding and support will be focused on larger communities, while more than 100 small outstations will lose less essential services like fuel subsidies.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman was keen to point out that no-one would be forced to leave the outstations.
“We’re not going to remove, or force Aboriginal people to be removed from land, and access to their culture and heritage, access to their kin,” Mr Redman said.
“So what's imperative in this, is if someone wants to stay living on the land, living where they've always lived, they can do so.”
It means that the approximately 120 communities – each with less than 10 permanent residents - will be required to be self-sufficient.
“By the end of the year, we'll identify 10 of the larger communities and sequentially start coordinating investment into key municipal infrastructure, to give them much better service delivery around water, power, sewerage and the like going forward,” Mr Redman said.
“It may even be some of the bigger centres, where there is access to employment and good quality education, that they could get transitioned into a town.”
People took to the streets in 2014 when Tony Abbott referred to Indigenous Australians living on ancestral lands as a “lifestyle choice”.
But with the release of the “remote reform roadmap” today, Aboriginal leaders are urging communities not to reject the process.
“I'm optimistic, because the principles in the roadmap document are the things we've been advocating for a long time,” Putijurra community leader Kate George told the ABC.
“So here is an opportunity, but we've actually got to go for it. And for me as an Aboriginal woman, I'm saying to the Aboriginal leadership we actually have to grab this, because I don't think the sushi train's going to come along too often.
“When you look at our culture and our communities, and the way we've lived in the past, there have always been rules. We've just been caught up in chaos for the last 55-plus years, and I think everyone wants some order.
“There will have to be some tough decisions made, but ultimately we need to get back to a situation of peace and prosperity.”