This is wrong. You cannot just close communities.
This is where people live and have always lived. What happens to them once they are displaced. This is no different to what the government did hundreds of years ago!
This smacks of more land grabs. If the traditional owners are not on the land, and do not have a constant direct link, the government sees it as their right to take the land.
One can only guess there must be some natural resources there for the taking.
This would not happen in any non indigenous city or town. This would be like saying lets close down Oakey, and move people away. we wont be doing roads, power or water, rubbish collections or provide any services. You have to go, it is not our problem where you go or what you do but we are not going to assist you. Who cares if you pay taxes.
Please share and let people know that this is not right and should not be happening.
Traditional owners savage Colin Barnett’s government, saying ‘we are deeply fearful about the potential impact’
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 November 2014 17.57 AEST
Plans by the West Australian government to close more than 100 remote and primarily Indigenous communities is the “biggest threat to our people since the shocking events of the 1960s”, traditional owners and native title holders of the Fitzroy Valley have said in a joint statement.
The statement, released on Tuesday by a number of groups representing people in Fitzroy Crossing and 35 surrounding communities, said they were “appalled” by the recent announcement by the premier, Colin Barnett, that between 100 and 150 of the state’s 274 remote communities face closure. More than 1,300 Aboriginal people live in 174 of the smallest communities, according to the ABC.
“We are deeply fearful about the potential impact of such a move on our people and communities, and the township of Fitzroy Crossing. We see this as the biggest threat to our people since the shocking events of the 1960s, and we believe the impact of such a move could be almost as devastating,” it said, referring to the devastating social impacts when Aboriginal people moved off stations and into townships after the equal wage case.
“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.”
Barnett has said there is no other option but closure of between 100 and 150 communities which it has described as “unviable”, and cited “high rates of suicide, poor education, poor health [and] no jobs”.
“[The smaller remote communities] are not viable and the social outcomes, the abuse and neglect of young children, is a disgrace to this state … This is the biggest social issue this state faces,” he said.
The Fitzroy Valley groups rejected the link between suicide and other social issues with closure as “nonsense”.
“We acknowledge that there are serious social and health issues in our communities. But we also assert on the basis of evidence and our direct knowledge that, on balance, the people in the smaller bush communities are healthier and happier,” it said.
It said forcing people out of the communities would just relocate and intensify underlying problems of poverty, disadvantage and unemployment.
In parliament last week Barnett acknowledged the closures would cause “great distress” to Aboriginal people and cause problems in the towns they move to, but said he had no other choice after the federal government announced it would withdraw its two-thirds share of the funding of power, water and services from the communities, and hand control over to the state from July next year.
However, the federal minister for Indigenous affairs, Nigel Scullion, denied there was any link between the two and said the state had been discussing closures “well before” the transfer of responsibilities was announced.
Aboriginal advocates and social service workers are also anticipating a drastic fallout if the closures go ahead.
Priscilla Collins, chief executive of the North Australian Aboriginal justice agency (NAAJA), told Guardian Australia the WA government’s decision was “extremely disappointing”.
“Where do they expect these people to go? Where is their housing? Where are their services, their families? Are they just trying to split up Aboriginal people in communities?” she said.
“I just don’t understand the logic behind it. These people are entitled to essential services just like in the urban areas.”
David Cole, chairman of Darwin-based youth suicide prevention program, the Balunu Foundation, said the closures were “point-blank genocide” and he was anticipating devastating consequences among the affected populations.
“It’s genocide, it’s land dispossession,” Cole told Guardian Australia.
“People being removed, pushed off, forced off the land and pushed into small communities is a recipe for social challenges on every level. Not to mention the cultural lore challenges that creates for our communities.”
Wyndham, in Western Australia, experienced an influx of displaced residents when a nearby community, Oombulgurri, was closed in 2011 by the WA government, citing high levels of violence, suicide and sexual assault. The remaining residents were evicted from the town, and services shut off or closed down. It is being demolished.
The transition for residents was “terrible”, Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous campaign manager, Tammy Salonec, told Guardian Australia, and Amnesty fears the same mistakes could be made.
“There was no integration strategy in place, people were forcibly evicted,” Salonec said.
“Eventually most were rehoused, but some still don’t have suitable housing, some are still homeless.
“It was a tragic case of error upon error upon error, with no consideration for how traumatic it would be for these people. We want to ensure that when the government is looking at this sort of thing now, that they do it in a better way.”
Since Barnett made the announcement to parliament a week ago, no plan has yet been put forward, and no target list of communities or services drawn up.
“Consultation with affected parties is essential and will occur,” a spokeswoman for the premier told Guardian Australia.
“However, it’s early days and the government is just beginning the work to determine a path forward. This process will be comprehensive and will not be rushed.”
She said the closures would not stop anyone returning to country, but there would be no government-funded services there when they did.
A spokesman for Scullion said the future of remote communities was “largely a matter for the Western Australian government”.