Aboriginal Australians are part of the oldest living culture in the world, and not only are homelands an irreplaceable part of that culture, but studies show that people experience better health outcomes while living there.
However in November 2014, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced that 150 remote Aboriginal communities would be closed by the Government, and in May 2016, Mr Barnett said again that he would like to see fewer of these communities. Today, the Government’s latest approach, the Regional Services Reform, isidentifying higher performing communities for funding – which will potentially leave the most vulnerable communities underfunded or closed altogether.
According to the Reform, residents from lower performing communities may have to relocate temporarily to access health services, education, and employment – or relocate permanently should their communities be closed altogether.
Despite all this, Australia has endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that people have the right to belong to their own communities and to be supported to do so. This means that residents of remote communities have the right to Government cooperation and funding.
This is why I am running the Home is Heritage campaign to prevent the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities, and have tabled a draft of my Prevention of Forced Closures of Remote Aboriginal Communities Bill 2016. The campaign petitions Mr Barnett to abide by the UNDRIP, and the bill seeks to prevent closures and enable residents to contest closures which take place without their permission.
I am seeking feedback on the bill at firstname.lastname@example.org