“We just like Refugees in our own Country.” WA communities waiting to hear about their future.

  • RefugeeOz
    A remote WA community. (SBS)

Consultation will begin with remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia mid-year with up to 150 facing closure.

The closures were flagged by the state government seven months ago, but Indigenous communities say they still have no idea of what the future holds for them.

As many face the prospect of being removed from their homelands, the former residents of Oombulgurri continue to mourn for their community which was shut down four years ago.

Former resident Delia Clarke says it’s painful to remember what they have lost.

“It broke my heart, it always does to talk about Oombi, it breaks my heart,” she said.

Oombulgurri in the eastern Kimberly was shut down after it was deemed to be in a state of crisis after a spate of suicides. It’s population of just over 100 was relocated to Wyndham, the northernmost town in the Kimberley region.

But Ms Clarke says they’re struggling to settle in to a town that’s not their own.

“Me and my kids were safe over there in Oombulgurri. Now we come to this place, we don’t even like Wyndham”.

Most of the former Oombulgurri residents live on the outskirts of the town, as Ms Clarke says they don’t feel comfortable living in the urban centre accommodations.

She says some former residents have turned to alcohol and crime.

“My son he’s in trouble all the time, my son was 16 when we came from Oombulgurri and once we get here he is stealing,” she said.

The West Australian government says it’s unable to fund the communties and due to Federal Government cutbacks up to 150 of them will have to close.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has angered many in the Indigenous communities with his comments on the issue.

“It’s not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise lifestyle choices,” he said.

Keith Andrews, chairman of the Biridu Community, disagrees with the premise of the comment.

“That’s our ancestors Mr Abbott so it’s not a lifestyle choice for me it’s something left to us.”

It’s not certain which communities will close, but 12,000 thousand people are expected to be relocated.

Murra Worra Worra Director Selena Middleton says many are in a state of panic.

“Where we gunna go? The government is not listening to us and they’re not recognising us for who we are, the people of this land.”

She says community leaders want to know why money from Royalties for Regions – a program to support regional development with W-A mining profits – can’t be used to support the remote communties.

In a statement, WA Premier Colin Barnett says the reality is that maintaining 274 remote communities is not sustainable.

However he says there will be no sudden changes and nothing will happen overnight.

But Diane Chungal of the Bungardi Community says there has been little to no discussion with Indigenous community leaders during the last few months.

“The government is not even talking to us about how and why they are doing these things. We just like refugees in our own country.”

The state government will open a consultation period in June.

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Posted on March 18, 2015, in ConspiracyOz Posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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