The Pilbara will now have a stronger voice in State Government decision-making following a recent announcement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt MLA, regarding the Western Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council (WAAAC) and the appointments of Pilbara Aboriginal Voice (Kakurrka Muri) (PAV) Co-Chairs, Danny Brown and Linda Dridi.
The WAAAC is a statutory board under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972, and will play a key role in working with the State Government on priorities, including the development of an Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy, Closing the Gap, Aboriginal youth suicide and reducing incarceration of Aboriginal people in custody. All current members of the WAAAC have been peer-nominated and represent a diversity of knowledge and expertise, locales, and genders.
Both PAV Co-Chairs have been working with the other interim members of this group since February of this year, advising the State Government on how it can better engage with Aboriginal communities to ensure their voices are heard when it comes to decisions being made that affect them, developing a Terms of Reference and suitable structure to achieve its objectives.
Most recently, as part of their role with the WAAAC, the PAV Co-Chairs hosted a community engagement workshop in South Hedland regarding the current “Closing the Gap” target refresh. This event was well-attended by stakeholders from across the region and provided an opportunity for robust discussions related to where previous campaigns and initiatives have failed and improvements to approaches could be made.
For the PAV Co-Chairs, their membership on the WAAAC is seen as a logical progression of the work they and other PAV representatives have been striving towards since the regional leadership group’s establishment in 2017; all of which aims to address community concerns and advocate on behalf of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“PAV was formed to enable our local people and communities to have more of a say in the decisions that affect us on-the-ground. We want to be part of identifying and implementing solutions that will help our region, and this means having a better relationship with government. PAV has been working hard to make inroads with various departments and agencies, and we are very proud to now have seats at the table at the state-level with our other region-based counterparts,” said Ms Dridi.
Mr Brown continued, “We have been speaking about ‘change’ for some time now. This has included trying to encourage people that, to achieve positive social impacts, we must own our community problems and partner with government to resolve our issues. We are on a new journey now, and PAV hopes to lead our people to change by respecting our cultural authority, demonstrating strong leadership, and operating with good governance, professionalism and transparency towards effectiveness and accountability.”