The McGowan Government today announced a $266.7 million funding package to support its Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing and improve the lives of young people in the Kimberley and across the State.
Health and Mental Health Minister Roger Cook and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt today released the Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing strategy, a comprehensive response to the Coroner’s Inquest and Learnings from the Message Stick report into Aboriginal youth suicide.
The strategy provides a blueprint to guide the development of policies and initiatives that affect Aboriginal people.
The funding package will support the strategy through measures that focus on community and youth empowerment, support for remote communities, youth wellbeing, justice, education, and cultural connection.
The $266 million package includes measures to support health and mental health issues in the Kimberley:
- $2.7 million for a Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention Package;
- $3 million for expanded and more accessible clinical mental health services in the Kimberley; and
- $32.3 million across the State towards the implementation of a new State Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Additional funding measures to support young Aboriginal Western Australians, and the communities in which they live include:
- $200.9 million for essential services and infrastructure to support the future of remote Aboriginal communities;
- $7.3 million towards Land Activation Pilot Project – a place-based economic development approach;
- $6.2 million in additional funding for the Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy, including $2.4 million for Kimberley night patrols;
- $1.4 million to revive the Connecting to Country grants program;
- $11.6 million for educational engagement programs to encourage Aboriginal girls to participate in school; and
- $1.3 million for an Empowered Youth Network for young Aboriginal leaders in the Kimberley.
These initiatives will complement the forthcoming Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy, currently published as a discussion paper seeking community feedback.
The strategy’s key principle will be that the Government must make room for solutions to emerge from meaningful collaboration and partnership with Aboriginal people.
Measures to improve Aboriginal wellbeing and support communities that have already been announced by the McGowan Government include:
- $9 million for a 24/7 mental health emergency telehealth service;
- $2 million for a new PCYC in Kununurra;
- $1.3 million for the West Kimberley Youth and Resilience Hub Project;
- $20.1 million for the North West Drug and Alcohol Support Program to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Mid-West;
- $9.2 million towards the development of a comprehensive alcohol and other drug youth service in the Kimberley – fulfilling an election commitment; and
- $2.3 million for four low medical withdrawal beds in the Kimberley.
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“The McGowan Government is committed to re-shaping the State Government’s relationship with Aboriginal Western Australians.
“These initiatives show our commitment to supporting the economic, cultural, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people.
“We want there to be no doubt about our views on the future of Aboriginal communities in this State. We are supporting Aboriginal people’s rights to live on country and, through our commitment to native title agreement-making and land tenure reform, will work towards an economically sustainable long-term future.
“Through key initiatives like the whole of government response to the issue of youth suicide, Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing, and the Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy, we are implementing a person-centred and culture-focused approach to the wellbeing of the Aboriginal community, especially children and young people.
“We now have a strong framework to continue to implement initiatives to improve the lives of young Aboriginal people.”
As stated by Health and Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:
“These measures show that our Government is serious about responding to the Coroner’s report and Learnings from the Message Stick report with funding to address the underlying issues.
“They will give young people in the Kimberley better access to more mental health support services.
“The Coroner identified FASD as a factor in many of the issues facing young Aboriginal people in the Kimberley. The $2.7 million for a FASD prevention package will support pregnant women and the wider community to raise awareness of the risk associated with FASD.
“Of course, there’s more work to do. But this initial funding package presents the commitment to working with Aboriginal communities towards a healthier, stronger future.”
Aboriginal Affairs Minister’s office – 5662 5900