Support for remote communities will continue as the State Government agreed to a $121 million dollar deal with the Commonwealth to help fund remote communities in WA.
Following the previous 10 year $1.1 billion dollar National Partnership Agreement expiring on June 30th this year, an initial offer of $60 million dollars over three years being rejected, robust negotiations were looking like the Commonwealth would walk away from any further funding commitment.
The new 2 year funding will be the last contribution by the Commonwealth, before the State Government takes over complete responsibility for WA’s remote housing.
Peter Tinley, Minister for Housing, said the State Government has reached an agreement where the Commonwealth’s position on this has been accepted, but reserves its right to negotiate and strike long term funding arrangements that provide for the advancement and interests of people living in remote communities.
“We reserve our rights to negotiate with the future Federal Government to get the outcomes we want,” he said.
Current programs for supporting remote housing and providing essential services will continue, as WA currently spends $90 million dollars per annum in about 165 remote communities across the state.
Mr Tinley said this additional funding allows the current programs to continue, with a particular 10 communities being at the forefront.
“There are 10 that we want to do a deeper program on to ensure we get the best results out of those, but that’s not to suggest those other communities won’t get attention,” he said.
Over 1,300 new dwellings are needed over the next 10 years, however Mr Tinley explained it’s not just about housing, it’s about maintaining those houses in a very difficult environment.
Collaboration with Aboriginal West Australians will also continue with the hope of improving conditions and life outcomes.
“We’re having a conversation with those communities about the future viability and seeing what do they want for THEIR future,” Mr Tinley said.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, said while the McGowan Government accepts the Commonwealth’s offer as a short-term fix to the highly complex issue of providing remote communities in WA with housing, we do not approve of its plan to walk away from its responsibilities for Aboriginal people in remote WA.
“We will continue to work with the Commonwealth to ensure this principle is upheld for the long-term sustainability of remote Aboriginal communities in WA,” he said.