House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Statements by Members

Aboriginal Health

1:43 pm

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Together with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, I travelled two hours from Geraldton by small plane to the centre of Durack to a town called Wiluna, once a thriving gold town of 10,000, now a somewhat desolate community of 800, perched on the edge of the desert in no-man's land between the Pilbara and Geraldton. This is not the first time I have spoken in this place regarding Wiluna, which together with Meekatharra are towns which I feel have been forgotten.

Wiluna's Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service, led by veteran Richard Whittington, delivers 36 programs without which the community would wither. Yes, it really is a one-stop shop for programs such as the HACC and aged care, GP, ear, nose, throat and dental services, hearing and vision screening, drug and alcohol support, the night patrol, early childhood education, and they run the ambulance—just to name a few. To quote Richard:

Life is not easy in Wiluna—to find a job, a house—and if you get a job, then you lose your house. Alcohol is the end result, the escape from desolation and desperation.

Getting a job and a house can be a disincentive for getting a job in the first place, because one's income then impacts your eligibility to receive subsidised housing. It is a vicious cycle. I draw this matter to the attention of my parliamentary colleagues, particularly those charged with reviewing and changing the conditions under which our Aboriginal people live.