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Western Australia’s Remote Indigenous Communities: A Case Against Closures and a Call For New Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Asta Hill*
Affiliation:
Alice Springs, Australia
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In the late 1970s thousands of Indigenous Australians initiated a movement back to the ancestral lands they had been removed from during the assimilationist era. Less than 50 years since their return to country, Aboriginal people living in Western Australia’s (WA) remote communities are again grappling with their impending redispossession. Wa Premier Colin Barnett’s announcement late last year was panic inducing:

It is a problem that I do not want and the government does not want, but it is a reality. There are something like 274 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia—I think 150 or so of those are in the Kimberley itself—and they are not viable. They are not viable and they are not sustainable . . . I am foreshadowing that a number of communities are inevitably going to close.

Type
Symposium on International Indigenous Rights, Financial Decisions, and Local Policy
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 2015

References

1 Western Australia, Parliamentary Debates, Assembly, Nov. 13, 2014, 8126 (Colin Barnett, Premier) (Austl.).

2 Sabel, Charles & Simon, William, Minimalism and Experimentalism in the Administrative State, 100 Geo. L.J. 53, 55 (2011)Google Scholar.

3 Id at 58.

4 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Dec. 16, 1966, 993 UNTS 3.

5 Comm. on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 20: Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, para. 2, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/20, para. 34 (2009).

6 International Law Association, Report of the 74th Conference 834, 853 (2010).

7 Comm. on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General Recommendation 23, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN Doc. A/52/18, annex V at 122, art 4(d) (1997).

8 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Res. 61/295, arts. 26(1), 26(2) (Sept. 13, 2007).

9 Hunter, Boyd & Gray, Matthew, Continuity and change in the Community Development Projects Scheme (CDEP) 48 Austl. J. Soc. Issues 35, 36 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Moran, Mark, What job, which house?: Simple solutions to complex problems in Indigenous affairs, Austl. Rev. Pub. Aff., (2009)Google Scholar.

11 Id. at 52.

12 Office of the Auditor General of Western Australian, Delivering Essential Services to Remote Aboriginal Com Munities 8 (2015) 8.

13 Id. at 19.

14 Id.

15 Australian Government, Department of Finance and Deregulation, Strategic Review of Indigenous Expenditure (2010).

16 Id.

17 Brian Gilligan, The Indigenous Protected Areas Programme: 2006 Evaluation 3 (2006).

18 Pew Charitable Trusts and Synergies Economic Consulting, Working for Our Country: A Review of the Economic and Social Benefits of Indigenous Land and Sea Management 1 (2015).

19 Id. at 27.

20 Id. at 26.

21 Id. at 9.

22 Sabel & Simon, supra note 2, at 55.

23 See id. at 79.

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