Closing the Gap Far From Reality

Tuesday, 25 November

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has backed claims by WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin that a halt in funding to the state’s only Aboriginal interpreting service could undermine the fairness of the state’s justice system.

Mr Chapple said this decision showed a complete lack of recognition for the needs of indigenous people in Western Australia.

“This government appears hell-bent on increasing inequality in this state,” he said.

“The right to an independent, trained interpreter is a basic legal right.

“The decision to end funding to the KIS, an essential service for many of the state’s indigenous people who do not speak English as a first language, will directly impact on the fairness of our justice system.”

Mr Chapple said this decision by the state government not to continue funding was one of a number of decisions made recently that directly, and negatively, affected indigenous people.

“Both our state, and federal, governments are further from closing the gap then they ever have been,” he said.

“Just last week the Barnett government announced the closure of more than half of this state’s remote communities, what is essentially a forced eviction of people from not only their homes, but their country and connection with culture.

“Proposed changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, likely to be debated in parliament early next year, could have even more devastating impacts on the right of Indigenous people in Western Australia to have a say on matters relating to heritage.

“When you throw in more than $500 million worth of funding cuts from our ‘Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs’, including Aboriginal Legal Services, it’s almost impossible to understand how either government plans to overcome indigenous disadvantage.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

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