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Federal government provides funding for wellbeing support in flood-hit Kimberley communities

Giovanni Torre -

The Australian government is providing $300,000 for social and emotional wellbeing support for Aboriginal communities in Western Australia's flood-ravaged Kimberley region.

Cyclone Ellie caused the worst floods in the state's history last month, leaving thousands of people displaced, isolated and experiencing trauma, as well as damaging or destroying homes, roads, bridges and other important infrastructure elements.

Funding announced Saturday for local community organisation, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, will provide support to people affected by flooding over the coming months, including air travel to communities that are inaccessible to enable the social and emotional wellbeing workforce to meet people and respond to the needs of isolated remote communities.

KAMS will deliver this project in partnership with its member services, the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and the Derby Aboriginal Health Service Council, and ensure services are culturally safe and prioritise the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services chief executive Vicki O'Donnell OAM said the floods have had a significant impact for many people in the region.

"The immediate need to increase the scope and reach of our Social and Emotional Wellbeing services is urgent," she said.

"Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and our Member Services, Derby Aboriginal Health Services and Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Services will be able to use this initial support from NIAA to increase our travel and direct support to those in immediate need.

"We endeavour to work alongside all agencies involved to make sure we effectively support our community members through this crisis and secure ongoing resources as we recover and rebuild our communities over the coming years."

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said people across the Kimberley are still doing it tough in the wake of Cyclone Ellie.

"Some people are still struggling to get access to fresh food, to find accommodation and dealing with being separated from family and friends," she said.

"Getting direct personal support to people where they are is so important.

"Social and emotional support is already a priority in the Kimberley, and this additional funding will strengthen the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services' ability to respond to the needs of the community."

Broome-based Senator of Western Australia Patrick Dodson said the devastating impact of the floods on Kimberley communities has been difficult and traumatic for many families.

"I'm pleased to see the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, a well-respected community controlled organisation, funded to provide much needed support to residents," he said.

"Communities need to be supported in every way possible to get the strength they need for the next stages of recovery and rebuilding."

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