AHCWA calls for government reform councils to consider health outcomes

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Western Australia’s peak Aboriginal health organisation wants the State Government’s new Strategic Regional Advisory Councils to consider the health outcomes for Aboriginal people of withdrawing services to Aboriginal communities.

The government has today called for nominations for Aboriginal leaders to be part of the new Advisory Councils, which are being established in the Kimberley and Pilbara.

“While we remain opposed to the withdrawal of services from Aboriginal communities, we are somewhat encouraged by the government’s attempt at a collaborative approach,” said Aboriginal Health Council of WA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.

“We will encourage our member organisations in the Kimberley and Pilbara to nominate Aboriginal leaders who want to be part of these Advisory Councils.

“We hope that by being involved in the process, this will ensure that the health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people will be considered by these new Councils.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA had serious reservations about what the government was now labeling a reform process, when the Premier had made it clear from the start that the outcome would be that many Aboriginal communities would close.

“It is very hard for us to put faith in a process which the Premier has said could result in the closure of up to 150 Aboriginal communities,” she said.

“However, we feel it’s important to be involved in the process to try to ensure the government considers what Aboriginal communities mean to the health, mental health, wellbeing and culture of Aboriginal people.

“Connection to country is something that simply cannot be picked up and moved somewhere else, and we hope that through these new Advisory Councils, the government will come to understand what the impacts of moving people off country will be.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA would be contacting its member organisations in the Kimberley and Pilbara and assisting them to nominate any Aboriginal leaders who may want to sit on the Advisory Councils.

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