Australian news, and some related international items

Traditional owners not consulted about criteria for closing down remote Aboriginal communities

KLC head says remote communities not given ‘chance to improve’, ABC Online Indigenous By Nicolas Perpitch March 27, 2015 The head of the Kimberley Land Council says Aboriginal communities should have been made aware of the criteria by which they were assessed in a WA Government report to give them the chance to improve.

A July 2013 draft discussion paper prepared by the Department of Housing, and seen by the ABC, recommended funding be stopped to 75 remote Aboriginal communities and very limited to another 53.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier has received the final version of the report and said it would go into the makeup of a new funding model to be released “very soon”.

The draft discussion paper assessed communities against 15 indicators, including health, education, access to food, electricity and drinking water.

KLC chairman Anthony Watson said communities did not know there were criteria they had to meet.

“We should have been made aware of it and at least we would have been engaged with it,” he said.

“They’ve done the study, coming in, without the consultation.

Mr Watson said communities needed to be able to demonstrate they were working towards the Government’s requirements, and at the same time traditional owners should have been consulted about the criteria.

“It is a desktop [report], and we’ve got a sense of what communities are struggling,” he said.

“Then we need to finalise, instead of closing them down, towards helping them get to where the Government wants them to be.

“It’s just unfair to close them down. We need to find results and move towards the intention of what the governments are doing.

“It’s just a desktop [report] and we need to go back to the drawing board to how we want to address the issues.”

The draft discussion paper placed communities in five funding categories.

he 16 communities in category one would be the major focus of government investment and would likely be major service centres, which could be gazetted as town sites in the future.

The bottom 128 would either be completely cut off or receive only very limited investment, while the rest would have limited to moderate funding.

The report said it was a “desktop assessment” which measured the accessibility of services and not whether they were adequate.

‘Arrogant and patronising’ approach says Opposition

Opposition Indigenous affairs spokesman Ben Wyatt labelled it an “arrogant and patronising” approach to public policy, where the Government seemed intent on not speaking with Aboriginal people in remote areas.

“Time and again the Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier says no work has been done when clearly there has been considerable work done but what seems to be the case is the Barnett government has some sort of pathological avoidance of actually speaking to Aboriginal people in those communities,” Mr Wyatt said……..

The draft discussion paper said the main focus of State Government investment would be in larger, functional communities, with an emphasis on health, safety and economic sustainability.

The smallest communities and those deemed to present a risk to health and well being would no longer receive funding for infrastructure or services……..

April 4, 2015 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia

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