Minister Rishworth interviewed on ABC Kimberley Breakfast with Vanessa Mills


Topics: Funding boost for East Kimberley communities

VANESSA MILLS, HOST: Two Kununurra organisations will get almost four and a half million dollars to share in federal funding to offer more employment for Aboriginal people. The Community-led Solutions. Economic Development Grants will go to Wunan Foundation's Lily Lagoon Resort and Warringarri Aboriginal Arts. Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, Good morning, Minister.


VANESSA MILLS: What's prompted these two organisations getting 4.45 million to share?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, obviously, as we went through consultation around getting rid of the cashless debit card, one issue that came through is that communities wanted long term solutions, but importantly, we heard the message about jobs and training and opportunities for people and that is what this funding is all about. It's providing community led solutions. So, these weren't decisions made by government and imposed on communities, they were solutions developed by the communities. And if we look at the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre, it really is about improving this centre, providing the opportunity for training, providing the opportunity for employment, but also cultural tourism for the region. Equally, the Lily Lagoon Resort development is a really exciting project that will further enhance cultural tourism and hospitality allowing for storytelling, eco-cultural themed facilities. So, really a very positive, strength-based opportunity for economic development, which is so important.

VANESSA MILLS: Minister, do you know if the money that's been granted to these two organisations, $3.8 million to Wunan and $628,000 to Warringarri is going to be used for infrastructure purposes or for staffing wages for example or delivery of programmes?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Yes, this is about the infrastructure. This is about, for example, providing the infrastructure that provides the platform for these opportunities. If we look at the new fit out of the new cultural museum interactive information space, it will employ locally cultural consultants and artists and workers. This is about providing infrastructure that generates that employment outcome and employment opportunities.

VANESSA MILLS: So, if it's about infrastructure and fit up, then I imagine that it's going to be the builders and subbies who'll benefit from this money?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: In the Wunan project, for example, it has been highlighted that the construction itself will give Aboriginal locals the opportunity to train and have employment in the construction. When we look at this infrastructure, there was actually a focus by Wunan organisation, not just at the ongoing job opportunities that will come as a result, but in the construction of this, the opportunity to employ and train local indigenous people. That is another extra element that's really exciting about this project.

VANESSA MILLS: How will the success of the grants be measured?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, the success of the grants will be measured in making sure that firstly the infrastructure is built, but of course, then the ongoing employment training opportunities and the economic development that comes with it. But I must say, the proposals have been very well thought through. I think there's been a lot of consultation about what needs to happen to really invigorate the cultural tourism sector, and realise the natural strength of local indigenous people to showcase some of that. This provides a platform to go and actually expand that really important economic area.

VANESSA MILLS: There have long been calls for more input into essential services in the East Kimberley, particularly in Kununurra; alcohol rehabilitation, whole of family counselling, youth crime prevention, safe places for kids who are picked up by police at night. Is there any money for those services?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Absolutely. This is only one of the components of the funding that we have provided. One of the big calls I heard was that the former government was ending its funding for some of the existing services on the first of July this coming year. We've extended that money and also are working with communities about what additional services they might want. Obviously, the issues that you've highlighted have joint responsibility in terms of state and the Commonwealth, but we are certainly working with both the state and local communities on what are the needs of local communities. In addition, I also recently announced extra money for emergency relief, particularly for Western Australia and Queensland communities affected by the floods. We know that that has had an impact, and we're constantly looking at responding to what communities need along with our state colleagues, but particularly listening to communities. One of the strong messages, in addition to services, is young people particularly need to have something to work towards, some sort of job opportunity, and that's what this money is responding to.

VANESSA MILLS: But there are already lots of jobs and training opportunities on offer, particularly in Kununurra. You speak to any business and they're short staffed. Why put money into these particular projects and not perhaps more social well-being services?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: As I said, there's already money going into social well-being services, but many Aboriginal communities that I speak to, they've got solutions that are tailored to some of the existing skills and the opportunity to train in new areas. They have some of the solutions and want to be given the opportunity to do this, and that is what this money is doing.

VANESSA MILLS: Good to speak with you. Thanks for your time, Minister.