Housing Minister Peter Tinley announced in Geraldton today that Western Australia’s fourth Aboriginal short stay facility will be built in the Mid-West regional centre, with an expected opening date in early 2023.
The McGowan Government has allocated $18 million under the State Recovery Plan to build the Geraldton Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation (GASSA) facility to provide safe, affordable and culturally appropriate accommodation for Aboriginal people.
The construction phase of the development is expected to generate some $37 million in economic activity for the region and support almost 100 construction jobs. There will be ongoing employment opportunities on completion of the development.
The project is modelled on successful facilities constructed in Broome and Derby.
Since opening in December 2018, Broome has provided more than 3,500 people with more than 33,600 bed nights of accommodation, while Derby has provided more than 61,600 bed nights since September 2014.
Both facilities have workforces with an average of 70 per cent Aboriginal employees.
The Department of Communities has worked closely with local stakeholders including the Mid-West Aboriginal Organisations Alliance and the Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation to identify a site.
The proposed site is a portion of Bundiyarra’s site on the corner of Eastward Road and Blencowe Road in Utakarra – a culturally significant site considered by Aboriginal people to be the home to the original Geraldton Wax plant.
The masterplan for the GASSA facility is designed around the songline that runs through the site and also considers the watering hole that Aboriginal people in the region journeyed to for gatherings over time.
WA’s first Aboriginal short-stay facility opened in Kalgoorlie in 2012, followed by Derby in 2014 and Broome in 2018.
As stated by Housing Minister Peter Tinley:
“The GASSA project will deliver a modern and welcoming facility for Aboriginal visitors to town and their families.
“In the process it will create an estimated 96 construction jobs and inject more than $37 million into the Mid-West economy to help the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Projects of this scale have major benefits for the local economy and will boost job opportunities during construction and after completion in the ongoing operation of the facilities – all of which will be essential to the State’s recovery.”
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“Building a network of safe, secure and culturally appropriate accommodation across regional WA ensures people from remote communities can get access to services only available in larger regional centres.
“Research shows up to 10 per cent of Aboriginal people in regional centres are temporary residents from surrounding remote communities who are visiting family or attending to shopping and personal business.
“These short stay accommodation facilities are one way the State Government is working to close the gap for Aboriginal Western Australians.
“It is also an example of the McGowan Government’s commitment to securing social and economic outcomes for the Aboriginal people of the region and its ongoing partnership with the Yamatji Nation people under the Yamatji Nation native title agreement.”