NACCHO Press Release : Closure of WA Aboriginal communities repeats historic failures

MAT and Sandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we are seeing these poor policies from the past continue in Western Australia today with the closure of regional communities. It’s time to learn from the mistakes of past policies, listen to Aboriginal people and reverse this decision. It seems we are a long way off reconciliation if even our Prime Minister doesn’t know that Aboriginal people living on Country is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but an integral part of identity and culture.”

Matthew Cooke NACCHO chair pictured above with NACCHO Deputy chair Sandy Davies (from WA)

The peak Aboriginal health organisation today joined the chorus of concern about the closure of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and subsequent comments made by the Prime Minister in relation to ‘lifestyle choices’.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke said the physical, emotional and spiritual health of Aboriginal people is tied to their connection to Country. Dispossession is one of the key reasons we have for the existing health gap between Aboriginal and other Australians.

“Time and again we see evidence showing that when you remove Aboriginal people from their land, they lose their sense of identity which has profound impacts on their health and wellbeing.

“Aboriginal people are suiciding at alarming rates, almost a third of Australia’s jail population is Aboriginal and as a People we can expect to die 10-17 years younger than other Australians.

“This is primarily due to the historic dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land, generations of racism and entrenched poverty and disadvantage.

“Now we are seeing these poor policies from the past continue in Western Australia today with the closure of regional communities.

“It’s time to learn from the mistakes of past policies, listen to Aboriginal people and reverse this decision.”

Mr Cooke said he was astonished that the Federal government could talk about reconciliation and promote constitutional recognition for Aboriginal people whilst closing remote communities.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Prime Minister has displayed so little understanding about Aboriginal culture and the importance of connection to Country today.

“It seems we are a long way off reconciliation if even our Prime Minister doesn’t know that Aboriginal people living on Country is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but an integral part of identity and culture.”

Media contact: Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774

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