Coordinated by YMAC, the Annual On-Country Bush Meeting at Yule River once again created a vital opportunity for government to hear from Pilbara Aboriginal people on collectively identified issues affecting them, along with proposals on how these could be addressed in meaningful, culturally appropriate ways.
2019 saw strong contributions from the Pilbara Aboriginal Voice (Kukurra Muri) (PAV) with the Co-Chairs facilitating discussions.
Key issues and opportunities that were presented to government representatives included:
• Government Funding of Social Services
Attendees called for an analysis, evaluation and review of government spending in relation to Aboriginal social services delivered through Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS).
• Child Welfare
Attendees requested the State Government undertake an enquiry into the child protection and family support system being implemented in the Pilbara.
People highlighted the urgent need for improved, more culturally appropriate health services throughout the Pilbara. Including effective strategies to address alcohol misuse issues, in partnership with communities.
Aboriginal education statistics for the Pilbara were requested, and it was proposed that PAV work to advise and consult with State Government in co-designing educational programs tailored for Pilbara students to support improved outcomes in learning and retention.
• Training and Employment
People urged the return of the Commonwealth’s Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program in remote communities.
Attendees called for State and Federal Governments to reinstate – in consultation with the community – discussions about funding and devising solutions to address the critical housing issues across the Pilbara.
Improved funding to Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre to support outcomes in health, education, and cultural awareness.
• Government Procurement Policies
Review existing government procurement policies in the Pilbara to ensure they are genuinely meeting the commitment that one percent of all contracts awarded go to Aboriginal businesses.
• Pilbara Reconciliation Plan
Attendees proposed the State Government develop a ‘Pilbara Reconciliation Plan’.