The McGowan Government has today launched an innovative economic development pilot project to reform land tenure in remote communities to improve economic, health and social outcomes for Aboriginal people.
The Land Activation Project is a place-based pilot project incorporating land tenure reform to set the stage for improved economic development outcomes, community governance, upgrade of essential services and to provide additional housing.
Bidyadanga, Western Australia’s largest remote community, has been selected as the pilot site and the McGowan Government has committed $7.3 million towards the project.
The State Government will work with representatives for the native title holders, the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association and the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Incorporated and community members to remove land tenure barriers.
This will enable future economic activation, business development and regularisation of services.
The pilot project highlights the State’s commitment to supporting remote communities and will provide an opportunity to re-engage the Commonwealth on future investment in remote Aboriginal communities after a period of progressive withdrawal of federal resources.
Land tenure change is considered a fundamental first step to ensure remote communities are sustainable and able to thrive economically by attracting new forms of investment, creating opportunities for home ownership and improving services.
The pilot project is in addition to the almost $17 million committed to seal internal community roads and upgrade essential water and services infrastructure, directly improving the environmental health standards for residents.
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“Land tenure change is considered the first step of full economic transformation for remote Aboriginal communities.
“Economic transformation involves the removal of existing barriers to economic development, such as inflexible land tenure arrangements, unresolved native title issues, and environmental health risks including overcrowded housing.
“It also involves supporting economic participation through the local delivery of public services, capacity building, training, and business assistance to start or expand Aboriginal enterprises.
“The project seeks to address the aspirations of community residents and the native title holders and build an agreement to deliver a sustainable future for Bidyadanga.
“Economic transformation must be built around the Bidyadanga community’s own vision for the future and cannot be realised without local leadership and the active participation of native title holders and community members.
“I’d like to thank the the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association and the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Incorporated for their partnership in this important project.
“The success of this project will lie within all levels of Government partnering with the community to achieve a mutual goal.”
As stated by Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer:
“I support the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in taking these steps to give Traditional Owners the opportunities to work with their Lands.
Bidyadanga is at the stage where decisions of how to work with their people and Country right now is very, very important.”