I would like to address comments made by Nicholas Fardell (on behalf of Nationals WA?) in his letter on Saturday, 16 July titled ‘Racism a headline grab’. I am an active member of the goldfields community and have helped a broad range of groups to achieve a broad range of outcomes over my tenure as an MLC for the Mining and Pastoral region; this is not the issue at hand however.
Greens policy has long been informed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and will continue to do so to reflect their diverse views. I wrote my Prevention of Forced Closures of Remote Communities Bill 2016 for the same reason I am sceptical of the reform roadmap; Aboriginal communities, elders and representative groups from around the state have expressed fear at the language used by this government, and resentment that they haven’t been included so far in this process.
I could have said “this is too much money” but to do so (and to suggest it, as you have) would have completely missed the point. I apologise that you (and your community, whoever they are) are sick of hearing about racism; I can think of some people who are sick of racism, period.
There can be no overarching solution to ‘close the gap’ in Western Australia as every region is represented by a different Aboriginal nation or nations, and every community is different. Solutions must be unique and they must be tailored to and achieved on a community-by-community basis.
If this roadmap is the very beginning of a long-term process that seeks to work with every community – including those identified as ‘not viable’ – to ensure they have the capacity to become self-sufficient, to empower Aboriginal people and primarily, acknowledge the significance of culture and its applications for education, employment, creating local opportunities and general health and wellbeing then it will have my support. But if this roadmap exists in its current form as THE solution then it embodies everything that has failed in the past.
The roadmap identifies all the failings of the last 30 years of government in over supply of and inappropriate services that in the main have been imposed on communities by the bureaucracy of government. There have been countless reports written by traditional owners on roadmaps for a better, more economical provision of appropriate services that empower communities. This Roadmap, and all previous reports, start from the same premise of failure to deliver however this report makes indigenous communities the scapegoat rather than empowering them.