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An Indigenous community northeast of Broome is benefiting from a significant investment in new water infrastructure.  

This investment represents continued efforts to provide safer and more reliable water services for Aboriginal communities across Western Australia. 

To mark the first anniversary of the Water Corporation’s Aboriginal Communities Water Services (ACWS) program, Western Australian Water Minister, Simone McGurk, met with community leaders in Djarindjin to review the program’s works. These works are intended to support population growth and enhance health and wellbeing outcomes. 

“This significant $20.4 million investment in Djarindjin is the latest milestone in delivering generational change to water services in our Aboriginal communities,” Ms McGurk said.  

“The first year of the Aboriginal Communities Water Services program has focused on building partnerships with communities to identify critical water quality issues and implement short-term solutions while planning for the future, and we have seen some great results already.” 

Djarindjin is 170km north-east of Broome. The bore field for the Dampier Peninsula is the first new water source being delivered since the WA Government transferred responsibility last year for water services in 141 Indigenous communities to Water Corporation. 

In the 12 months since the transfer, significant upgrades to water services in five communities, including Djarindjin, have commenced or been completed, totalling $32.4 million. There have been initial upgrades to the water reticulation network in Ardyaloon, where new pipes and valves have been installed alongside a realignment of the existing pipe network. This sought to address poor water pressure and leakage issues.  

The existing wastewater treatment ponds in Jigalong have been repurposed and decommissioned to support the efficient operation of a new wastewater treatment plant. Mowanjum has seen upgrades to the community’s wastewater treatment plant. It has become the first licensed wastewater treatment plant in an Aboriginal community. 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Dr Tony Buti, said, “We are committed to addressing water infrastructure challenges in Aboriginal communities, ensuring equitable access to essential services. This is a priority under our whole-of-government commitment to Closing the Gap. 

“Aboriginal communities, like Djarindjin, are unique with their own aspirations and water services needs, so I welcome the responsive, Aboriginal-led approach Water Corporation has adopted to deliver these progressive upgrades.” 

In addition, Indigenous contractors delivered $2 million of initial water network upgrades in eight town-based communities. These works included the installation of hydrants, valves, flushing points, water meters and new water services. 

Several programs of work, totalling $13.2 million, have also commenced to address higher-risk water quality issues and improve water quality testing across multiple communities. This is in parallel to scoping and planning more significant, longer-term infrastructure upgrades—including other potential new borefields—staged over an initial 10-year time frame. 

“This work is helping transform communities by helping to deliver wellbeing outcomes for people in these communities while creating opportunities for local Aboriginal businesses that benefit the whole region,” Ms McGurk said. 

Underpinned by a collaborative, engagement-led approach, the first 12 months of the ACWS program have initially focused on assessing the condition of existing water infrastructure and implementing enhanced water quality monitoring to better understand community requirements and help identify priority upgrades. 

“While it will take time, we have a clear pathway under the Cook Government to raise essential service standards across our Aboriginal communities and further progress our State’s reconciliation journey,” Dr Buti said. 

To safeguard public health, a more robust escalation process has been established, in liaison with the Department of Health, to advise communities of water quality issues. The increase in the number of community advisories is indicative of the enhanced water quality monitoring regime. 

For further information on ACWS, visit: watercorporation.com.au/ACWS 

Image credit: WITTE-ART.com/Adobe.com.

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