Aarnja is working closely with Aboriginal leaders, communities and organisations on the State Government’s recently released Regional Services Reform project. Aarnja believes there is an opportunity to unite Kimberley Aboriginal people and put them in the driving seat for real positive change in our remote communities. Aarnja has recently taken on the role of leading the Empowered Communities model in the west and central Kimberley and is working closely with the Wunan Foundation which is working in the east Kimberley. Empowered Communities is a proposal for reform of the relationship between governments and Aboriginal communities. Kimberley Aboriginal people have been talking about a model for regional governance for a long time, and Aarnja is working with people and organisations across the Kimberley to make it happen.
Kimberley Aboriginal Children in Care Project (Aarnja)
Aboriginal children in out-of-home care was recognised as a first priority for the West Kimberley as rates for the region are significantly higher than for non-Indigenous children. In response, Aboriginal leaders established the Kimberley Aboriginal Children in Care Committee, which has worked with Aarnja to address this important priority. The committee provided a report identifying key issues and gaps in the child protection systems and a series of recommendations to address the issues. It’s now working closely with the responsible WA Government Department to ensure legislative, policy, and service reviews take these recommendations into account. To complement this process, Aarnja is continuing to encourage collaboration between service providers so that we can make a powerful and positive collective impact for the benefit of our families and children. We're conscious of the need to minimise duplication of service provision and the importance of working together.
Joint decision-making framework (Empowered Communities)
The joint decision-making approach is being co-designed by Empowered Communities leaders and PM&C to provide a platform for joint planning and increasingly sharing decision-making authority with local leaders. The aim is to roll out this approach progressively, as Empowered Communities regions establish their regional Development Agendas. Here in the West Kimberley, Aarnja will be providing organisations whose funding is due to lapse at the end of December with self-assessment and community assessment tools. The community assessments will be undertaken by a community-nominated panel of leaders in the sub regions of the West Kimberley. This way, Kimberley Aboriginal people are empowered to directly inform government about what programs are really working on the ground.
Strategic direction for the Dampier Peninsula economic development plan (Empowered Communities)
Pre-construction works are currently underway ahead of the sealing of the Broome – Cape Leveque road. A sealed road will have a myriad of impacts on Dampier Peninsula residents. In order to explore, assess and mitigate potential negative impacts, a working group has been established. The Dampier Peninsula Working Group has been calling on residents to express what they need, want and expect from the sealing of the road. The working group contacted Aarnja for support and we’ve been able to offer our assistance in the following ways: through the facilitation of meetings; by setting up sub-committees responsible for mapping out issues relating to tourism, economic development, visitor impacts, natural resource management and social impacts; by offering governance support; and finally through lobbying government when requested so that the voices of Traditional Owners are not only are heard, but can actually shape this development on country.