10 chosen for infrastructure upgrade in WA
Written on the 20 December 201610 chosen for infrastructure upgrade in WA
Tens of millions of dollars will be spent on power and water upgrades at 10 remote West Australian Aboriginal communities under a funding overhaul set to be announced by the State Government this week.In return for new improved water tanks and power grids, residents will be expected to pay for usage, but some Indigenous leaders are warning the charges will not be popular.
Residents of larger communities already pay for electricity, but until now, none have had to pay for water usage.The Government is concerned that the billions of dollars being spent each year on remote communities is not translating into improved living conditions.
The aim is to bring essential services up to par with those in mainstream Australian towns, a process referred to in government circles as 'normalising' Aboriginal communities.Broome man Martin Sibosado heads up the Aboriginal development group Aarnja, and is advising the Government's reform unit on behalf of West Kimberley communities.
He said the changes would not be forced on communities, but the charges would be resisted.Mr Sibosado said about 90 per cent of remote community residents were dependent on social security, so some would struggle to pay their bills.
"Most of the people in remote communities are very disadvantaged, as they already pay high prices for freight and food so this will require a whole development around financial budgeting, personal finance, managing their budgets," he said.
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