The WA Government has produced a new ‘roadmap’ for regional and remote Aboriginal communities.
Consultation is currently underway and we know our community members want to talk, but will they be heard?
If you follow this roadmap carefully, we think it’s clear the direction has already been set and we don’t seem to have a choice about where we are going.
When the sun sets on this reform process, we know there is a real risk that many remote communities will close and hundreds of people will be displaced. But who will pay for the relocation of our people?
And what about the health, housing and education services when the removalists are called in?
More importantly, who will meet the social and cultural cost to our people of leaving behind their country? Because our country contains our history, our stories, our memories and our future. This is the map that we keep in our heads.
We are also facing other changes, like the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act to consider, even if they are currently on hold.
These changes have the potential to greatly impact on our Native Title rights and interests through changes to land tenure, including land development and conservation area proposals that require us to give up hard-won Native Title rights for little or no return.
These moves are taking us backwards not forwards.
If you want to know the right direction, please ask a local. We have experience of the country, and we know our destination and the best way to get there.
So come on government, don’t just talk. Listen to the people who understand.
We look forward to sitting in the driver’s seat and having a real say about this journey because we know this country like the back of our hands.
Anthony Watson, Chair, Kimberley Land Council