Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Shutting down Australia’s Aboriginal areas -(opening lands up for what?)


heartland.Shutting down Australia’s Aboriginal areas
, Aljazeera, New funding laws threaten the existence of remote indigenous communities already facing profound social issues.  
 07 Dec 2014 Perth, Australia  The West Australian state government may bulldoze 150 remote indigenous communities that it says are too expensive to keep open under a new funding arrangement between federal and state authorities.

Canberra has offered each state a one-time, lump-sum payment to take over the responsibility of financing remote Aboriginal communities indefinitely.

In an ultimatum, Western Australia was offered $90m, enough to fund remote communities through to 2017.

But as of June 30, 2015, past federal funding agreements will end, effectively giving Western Australia authorities about seven months before they must start working out how to fund remote communities in the future – and which ones will have to close. 

Similar arrangements have been made with South Australian, Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian state governments.

All have so far remained silent on the details with the exception of South Australia, which rejected a $10m payment on the basis that it was not enough for the obligation being created.

South Australia’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Ian Hunter warned if his government was forced to accept the new arrangement, 60 remote communities – home to 4,000 people – would have to close.

Futures in question

So far, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has taken a cautionary tone, telling Al Jazeera it is “still very early”, while admitting that community closures are inevitable……………

The fear is that changes to federal policy and funding arrangements that have raised the possibility of community closures only threatens to derail any achievements made to date.

That such closures may occur around the country is also what has lead the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP) to label the issue one of the “most significant” facing Australia’s indigenous peoples to date.

“This is about our people’s right to stay on our land,” NCAFP co-chair Kirstie Parker told Al Jazeera. “People are very frightened that the days are numbered and their communities will be closed.”

In an effort to address the issue, Parker and her co-chair Les Malezer called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to act in an open letter last week, but so far they have not received a response.

For others such as Tammy Solonec, Amnesty International Australia’s (AIA) indigenous peoples rights manager, there are serious questions about the Western Australia government’s ability to properly manage the transition………….

Lessons to be learned

The risk now is that the experience of Oombulgurri’s closure may be repeated across the country, and for Solonec this would be the worst case scenario.

“We can never let it happen again. If we’re going to talk about closing communities, we need to do it in a better way,” said Solonec.

What’s needed she said are “creative solutions” to actually solve the profound social issues within some remote communities, and prevent people being removed from their land.

Her view is echoed by Parker, who said self-determination is the key and closing down communities merely on the basis that they are “dysfunctional” will not solve problems, but only push them onto other communities.

“Our communities are left wondering about the future of our communities and of our children,” said Parker.

“This scenario doesn’t address the problems in our communities everyone knows are there, it doesn’t deal with the people. To do that you sit down and talk with them.” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/12/shutting-down-australia-aboriginal-areas-2014124124749741868.html

December 8, 2014 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia

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