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The WA government 'Homelands Dieback' blueprint attacks culture and rights

Through the WA government's lack of support and suppression through policies, legislation and attitudes toward Homeland communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions leaves our brothers and sisters vulnerable to their acts of genocide.
 
This is the way the government refuses to address the underlying issues that are coming under fire by members of the United Nations.
 
The Barnett government continues to use their well honed paternalistic based policies on our people to open up the land for Mining and International investments, and in doing so, saves them the responsibility to improve health and other issues caused directly by governments purposeful neglect.


Abandoned chair in the avenue of boab trees at the Oombulgurri Community in East Kimberley, which was closed down by the WA government in 2011.
Image: Sydney Morning Herald

West Australian plan favours large indigenous communities
Report by Paige Taylor and Victoria Laurie
'The Australian' 14 July 2016

Following the pressure of the huge rallies and social media against closing the homelands, the Barnett government is playing a sneaky game to close them anyway. The problems that exist in larger communities include increased substance abuses and forceful intermixing the peoples who have specific cultural backgrounds - This idea is just another form of genocide.

The West Australian government will entice Aboriginal families away from the smallest of the state’s 274 remote communities by upgrading services and facilities at large centres that may become gazetted towns, under a proposal to transform where and how 12,000 indigenous people live across the state’s remote north.

Two government ministers will today launch a draft road map for reform of regional and remote Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions, almost two years since Premier Colin Barnett triggered protests in Melbourne, Paris and Germany by saying that up to 150 of the communities would close.

Mr Barnett later tempered his remarks, describing his initial comments as “a bit bald”, but has never backed away from his claim that many of the state’s remote Aboriginal communities will ultimately not survive. This has also been the view of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier, who has said the effect of the changes could take many years.


Annie Milgin, a Nyikina woman, runs the health clinic at Jarlmadangah. She say’s living on country, with access to culture, makes young people ‘strong’ (Image: Calla Wahlquist - The Guardian )

Neither Mr Barnett nor Mr Collier will attend today’s launch of the blueprint — Resilient Families, Strong Communities — in the Kimberley town of Kununurra. It is instead being launched by its authors, state Nationals leader Terry Redman and state Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell, who have worked hard to dispel fears that the reform process is a ruse for mass closures.

The ministers want the state government to identify up to 10 communities by the end of this year for upgrades to essential and municipal infrastructure, as well as household metering. States took on more responsibility for remote communities under a deal struck with the Abbott government, but the Barnett government still does not pay for services or provide funding to the smallest 110 remote communities across Western Australia. In about 165 communities, it supports essential services including electricity supply and diesel fuel subsidies.

The ministers have formed the view that large communities, even if isolated, offer the best prospect of long-term sustainability.

“In concentrating on towns and larger communities, the state government expects to support fewer communities over time, particularly as migration away from small outstations continues,” the draft report states. “However, the state government will not prevent Aboriginal people from living remotely or continuing to access country for cultural reasons.”


Vinnie Kennedy, 4, with his sister Kiarhn Kennedy, 6, at their home in Molly Springs. (Image: James Brickwood - Sydney Morning Herald)

The report outlines $200 million for housing, but only “in locations with good education and employment opportunities”.

About $40m of the proposed housing budget is new money, from the Royalties for Regions scheme. The work of the remote reform unit has already begun, led by public servant Grahame Searle, who invented a transitional housing scheme in the state’s ­remote north that ­rewards rather than punishes unemployed indig­enous adults who find work.

Mr Searle was head of the state’s Housing Department when he learned that some unemployed Aboriginal people were reluctant to find work in towns such as Kununurra and Broome because they automatically lost their subsidised rental property and were forced to enter the Kimberley’s overheated property market.


Pasty Goonak, an Aboriginal elder in the remote town of Kandiwal in the Kimberley. (Image: James Brickwood - Sydney Morning Herald)