- Education and safety of children a key priority
- Aboriginal leaders to play major role in reform
- Additional funding to assist in reform process
The State Government today announced major reforms to the way services will be provided to Aboriginal communities to ensure better outcomes in health, education and job prospects, particularly for children.
Premier Colin Barnett said the era of billions of dollars being spent, with few improvements in the lives of Aboriginal people, had to end.
A State Government review of Aboriginal services in the Roebourne area in 2013 found there were more than 200 services delivered by 63 providers to 1,410 people. These cost more than $58 million a year but there was little evaluation of how effective these services were.
"This is a commitment to ensuring children are safe, that there are education and employment opportunities and social and economic stability in remote communities," Mr Barnett said.
"We will identify communities that are working well and will continue to invest in services that are effective and provide the best chance of positive outcomes.
"It is not the Government's intention to force people off their land or to prevent them having access to country but it is essential that Aboriginal children are safe and are going to school."
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier said the Government would assess the employment, education, child protection and health care options available to Aboriginal people in remote areas to determine how to ensure services were provided in the most efficient and effective way with less duplication and better co-ordination.
"This is a long-term plan that will be put in place in close consultation with Aboriginal communities and local governments. That consultation process starts within weeks," Mr Collier said.
"There are about 12,000 Aboriginal people currently living in 274 communities in Western Australia, some with only one house and one family in them. That is simply not sustainable."
Reform will be led by Child Protection Minister Helen Morton, who will oversee human services and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman who will oversee remote infrastructure and development. Both Ministers will report to the Aboriginal Affairs Cabinet Sub Committee, chaired by Mr Collier.
The Premier said the Government was prepared to spend more on improving opportunities for Aboriginal communities, with funding allocated through Royalties for Regions and departmental budgets.
A new reform unit will lead the changes, and in the coming weeks the Government will call for nominations from Aboriginal leaders to join Regional Strategic Advisory Councils for the Kimberley and Pilbara, which will act as a liaison between government agencies and local communities.
District Leadership Groups will also be formed with Aboriginal service organisations, local councils and relevant State agencies to engage locally with community members, and decide which services will best assist their communities.
The reforms will initially focus on the Kimberley and Pilbara.
- There are about 12,000 people living in 274 remote communities in WA
- $4.9 billion in State and Australian Government funding is spent on WA's Aboriginal population each year
- For more information, visit http://www.daa.wa.gov.au
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 6300