|Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has announced the state will close 100 to 150 of the 274 remote communities in WA. He has stated that the WA government will not pick up the shortfall once Federal funding ends in July 2015.
The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia are also under threat due to the withdrawal of federal funding.
Communities in the Northern Territory have already been closed, having devastating consequences on those who have been removed from their lands.
“We see this as the biggest threat to our people since the shocking events of the 1960s … we assert the right of people to live in and on their traditional country, for which they have ancient and deep responsibilities”
“We assert the right of people to live in and on their traditional country, for which they have ancient and deep responsibilities. To be talking of relocating people off their traditional country does indeed take us back 50 years in a very ugly way.” Fitzroy Valley traditional owners and native title holders.
By raising their families on homelands, Aboriginal people are able to maintain their deep spiritual and economic connection to their land. They can raise their children within cultural context, away from the discrimination that often still exists in larger towns. With proper services like health, education, water and shelter, people can be healthier and live longer on homelands.
Homelands are widely understood to have lower levels of social problems, such as domestic violence and substance abuse, than more populated communities. According to reports, the health of Indigenous people living on homelands is significantly better than of those living in larger communities. Homelands are also used effectively as part of substance abuse and other programmes for at-risk Aboriginal youth living in more populated or urban centres.” (UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights)
STOP the closure of the Homelands. It is essential that federal and state governments provide these communities with the services they require.
The funding of remote Aboriginal communities must not end.
Aboriginal communities MUST be allowed to live on their land, and must be provided the same services that other Australian’s take for granted.
“It’s smacks of the assimilation policies over the early 60s, it’s horrendous. This is a diabolical, in my view, highly racially motivated agenda.”
Greens MLC Robin Chapple
“How can it be that everyone in the state except Aboriginals get the funding, that’s where my anger is. It’s almost like an infrastructure apartheid system. He (Barnett) is moving into a very dangerous area. My argument is that if they are supplying services to communities of the same size of Aboriginal communities but they are not providing them to Aboriginal communities, I call that infrastructure apartheid. This has been going on for decades from state and territory governments and it has got to stop.’’
For more information on the Homelands: http://www.amnesty.org.au/indigenous-rights/comments/26411