Building stronger, safer communities on the Dampier Peninsula

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today joined Western Australian Labor Senators Louise Pratt and Glenn Sterle to inspect the work underway on the construction of a new family and early learning centre in Djarindjin.

Ms Macklin planted a medicine tree during a community celebration at the centre, and inspected other infrastructure works currently underway in the community.

The new centre is one of several projects being delivered on the Peninsula as part of a $6 million Federal Government investment under the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP).

“The family and early learning centre will open early next year and is going to be a fantastic resource for the community, providing childcare services as well as parenting support programs for local families,” Ms Macklin said.

“With these investments from the Gillard Government, together with the terrific work of the Australian Army, we’re building new infrastructure, improving the health of local residents and teaching young people new skills.”

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon said the Army’s work had also resulted in positive health outcomes for residents on the Peninsula. As part of the program, the Army also brings dentists, medical professionals and vets to the communities.

“Over the past six months, dentists have checked and treated about 500 people, mostly children, and given oral hygiene presentations to help people understand how to better look after their teeth,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Army personnel have also conducted men’s and women’s health checks, provided first aid presentations, physical training classes at local schools and distributed sporting equipment to promote physical activity and healthy living.”

Senator Pratt said the Government was working closely with the Army and local people to determine the key priorities for each community under their Local Implementation Plans.

“Over the past six months more than 150 Army personnel have been working in Djarindjin, Beagle Bay, Lombadina, and Ardyaloon to deliver some really important projects that are being driven by the residents.

“As well as this new centre, we’re building a new 13-lot subdivision, including roads and services, and a new four-bedroom house.

“This means a local family has a new home to raise their children in, and it will allow us to build more houses for residents in the future.”

Senator Sterle said the new projects built on the great work already completed in the communities.

“Ardyaloon residents have seen upgrades to their basketball courts, major stormwater diversion works have been finished in Lombadina and Djarindjin to help protect against flooding in the wet season, and road improvements have made the Djarindjin-Lombadina-Chile Creek Road intersection much safer.

“Because of this strong partnership we’re seeing a real turnaround in Djarindjin and other communities, giving families every chance to make sure their kids are getting the best start in life.”

Ms Macklin said the Government’s investments also meant local residents were getting valuable training.

“Young Aboriginal people on the Dampier Peninsula have received training from the Army in areas such as welding, boat handling, fire fighting and mechanics,” Ms Macklin said.

“We know that a job is a big contributor to personal development and helps build strong communities. Giving young people these valuable skills goes a long way to helping them find work.”

The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program delivers on-the-ground practical measures to bring real benefits to people living in remote Indigenous communities.

AACAP has been running for 16 years, providing significant infrastructure and important training to 37 remote Indigenous communities.

Media Contact: Gerard Richardson 0417 066 818