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WA pushes major water boost in remote communities

Water services in ten remote Aboriginal communities will receive an historic upgrade under a West Australian government program.

The communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara will be the first of the state’s larger communities to have basic services, including power and municipal services, brought up to minimum standards.

“The Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program is one of ten priority actions in the Government's 'Resilient Families; Strong Communities' roadmap,” said Regional Development Minister Terry Redman.

“In many remote Aboriginal communities, poor living conditions negatively affect the health of residents, and their participation in school and work.

“We believe that living conditions can be improved through mutual accountability between households, communities and government. The State Government's contribution is a significant investment in upgrades to power, water, wastewater and municipal infrastructure. In turn, individual households will be metered and charged for power and water services.”

The ten communities make up 20% of the total population of remote Aboriginal communities within the state.

They were selected on criteria including strong community leadership on education and employment, business or work opportunities, the capacity for the community to be used as a service hub and no natural limitations on growth.

Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell said the investment was about much more than water power and roads.

“Living conditions are the foundation on which family resilience and wellbeing are built,” she said.

“This investment will be the beginning of generational change for many Aboriginal families living in regional and remote Western Australia.

“Improved living conditions will also lay the groundwork for the development of greater economic opportunities for remote Aboriginal communities.”

Consultation and planning will take place over the next 18 months, with capital works expected to begin from July 2018.

The first ten communities are: Ardyaloon, Bayulu, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Djarindjin, Lombadina, Mowanjum, Warmun, Wakathuni and Yandeyarra.

A $52 million initial investment will come from Royalties for Regions and there are plans for other communities to receive upgrades later under Regional Services Reform program.