If Western Australia was a country, it would be the 10th largest in the world by land area. The Goldfields region alone is nearly the size of New South Wales. People are few and far between in this enormous space.
Western Australia has about 95,000 Aboriginal residents, nearly half of whom live in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields and Mid-West. In these regions, the State Government estimates that about 12,000 Aboriginal people reside in one of the estimated 274 remote Aboriginal communities.
Communities range in size from Bidyadanga, a former mission south of Broome, which has 600 or more residents, 130 or so communities with fewer than 10 permanent residents.
Eighty per cent of remote Aboriginal residents live in the largest 50 communities. The State Government supports housing, essential and/or municipal service delivery in about 165 of Western Australia’s 274 remote Aboriginal communities.
Distance, isolation and an often-harsh climate create unique challenges for residents and governments. This is especially the case in remote Aboriginal communities, which are some of the most isolated settlements in Australia.
Living conditions, which are the foundation for family wellbeing and base from which families can prosper and children can develop, vary enormously between communities. In some communities, housing and public areas are impeccably maintained, while in others, environmental health conditions are dismal.
Poor living conditions contribute to higher rates of infection, injury and chronic disease, and low community amenity and perceptions, which all in turn reduce family wellbeing and participation in school and work.
Relative to Western Australians overall, to Aboriginal people across Western Australia and to Aboriginal people who reside in regional towns, Aboriginal residents in remote communities are:
- less likely to have completed Year 12
- less likely to have a post-secondary qualification
- less likely to have a job
- far more likely to have personal income of less than $400/week
- far more likely to live in a house with seven or more other people
- far more likely to live in an overcrowded house
- far less likely to own their own home