The framework for future co-operation between the State Government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is set out in a joint communiqu� released today.
Signed by Premier Richard Court, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Kim Hames and ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, the communiqu� details the priorities in Aboriginal affairs and how the parties will work together to tackle those issues.
“The communiqu� is important, because it sets out our commitment to work together to improving conditions for the indigenous people of Western Australia,” Dr Hames said.
“This involves each party providing funding in partnership to ensure initiatives are implemented.
“For instance, the State Government and ATSIC have each committed $2.8 million over three years towards upgrading facilities and services in town-based communities to the same level as those provided in adjoining towns in WA.
“However, I am particularly pleased that both parties will jointly allocate a total of $500,000 to support family strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of family violence and youth suicide among Aboriginal people.
“These funds are in addition to any previous money set aside for work in those areas.”
The State Government and ATSIC also signed a bilateral agreement on the provision of essential services to indigenous communities in WA.
Dr Hames, who had been instrumental in preparing the agreement, said it recognised that indigenous people had the same right of access to essential services as other Australian citizens living in similar geographic circumstances.
“The agreement formalises a co-operative approach which has generated many significant and innovative initiatives leading directly to improved outcomes for Aboriginal people,” he said.
“Since 1994, when work started on the agreement, there have been some significant changes in the way governments work together and in the services now available to Aboriginal people living in remote communities.
“This agreement is not the end of the process, but it is a significant milestone along the way.”
Mr Clark said he was confident the agreements would lead to a new deal for the indigenous people of WA.
“The agreements have required a considerable amount of consultation and negotiation and shows all parties are prepared to commit substantial financial and human capital to work together for the good of our constituents in WA,” he said.
“I commend all of those in ATSIC and the Government who have helped bring these agreements to reality.”
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