Published on Saturday, 17 July 2021 at 2:41:00 PM

I’m always proud when Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a bit different to the rest of the world, and in the past I always supported local NAIDOC week celebrations being separate from the rest of the nation.

Historically, NAIDOC week in Kalgoorlie-Boulder has often been held in later in the year, in spring time, but this year was held in conjunction with National NAIDOC celebrations. Looking back now, I think it was a good move by the local committee, headed by Raelene Cooper, to align themselves with the rest of the nation. There is no doubt that this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations were the best ever, and congratulations go to Raelene and the rest of the committee, made up of a large and collaborative group of organisations and individuals, and I congratulate them all on an excellent job.

I was also proud of the involvement of the City Council in the various events during the week. We not only provided most of the venues free of charge, but also assisted in the preparation. For me, highlight of the week was the parade down Hannan Street to Kingsbury Park, and the photo shows just how many City staff took part in march, with many involved in assisting to make the various events the success they were.

There is no doubt NAIDOC week draws attention to the need for us to be forever vigilant and working towards improving reconciliation with the many groups who call Kalgoorlie-Boulder home. As Mayor, I have always said I do not support any particular group over another, but that myself and the Council work for all Aboriginals who live here, and that may include Noongars from the south, people from the Kimberley and Ngaanyatjarra lands, or Aboriginal people from the eastern states of Australia.

The matter of who comes from this region will be determined through the Native Title process, in which the City Council will have no involvement.

It is one thing to have a successful NAIDOC week, but I am also aware that as a community we need to engage with each other the other 51 weeks of the year. To that end, the City goes out of its way to employ local Aboriginal people wherever possible, and right now there are specific vacancies we are hoping to fill, after the previous incumbents went on to bigger and better jobs in the mining industry and State Government.

One area that I am especially concerned about is the lack of transitional and temporary at Ninga Mia, with the Government policy to gradually demolish accommodation at that site on our north eastern boundary.

I believe the Government’s policy is a misguided one, and without the type of housing that has been traditionally provided at Ninga Mia, when the people come to Kalgoorlie-Boulder from the Lands they most often either crowding into already overcrowded Homeswest housing or camp on vacant blocks. Ninga Mia may have had its shortcomings, but it is far better than is what is happening right now, and along with community leaders such as Geoffrey Stokes, I will continue to push for the construction of special accommodation at Ninga Mia to provide accommodation for visitors to our community.

Without proper housing, it becomes very difficult for people to lead a normal lifestyle.

While the rest of the year we must all strive to increase Indigenous employment and improve housing, education and health outcomes, the activities and symbolism from NAIDOC week were a great success. The parade this year was by far the biggest, and my hope is next year it will be even bigger.

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