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Aboriginal Population Profiles for Development Planning in the Northern East Kimberley

Aboriginal Population Profiles for Development Planning in the Northern East Kimberley

J. Taylor
Volume: CAEPR Monograph No. 23
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Aboriginal Population Profiles for Development Planning in the Northern East Kimberley
    Book Description:

    John Taylor is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, The Australian National University, Canberra. The Northern East Kimberley region of Western Australia is poised at a development crossroads with decisions pending on the extension or closure of Argyle Diamond Mine, and the ever-present prospect of agricultural expansion based on Ord Stage II. This region also has a major economic development problem—half of its adult population (almost all Aboriginal) is highly dependent on welfare, mostly outside the mainstream labour market, and ill-equipped to engage it. Aboriginal people are major stakeholders in the region as its customary owners and most permanent residents. Whatever decisions are made about future development, it is essential that they bring about improvements in Aboriginal participation, not least because of the high opportunity cost to Aboriginal people and to government of failing to do so. This study profiles social and economic conditions in the region, focusing on the Aboriginal population. It examines demography, the labour market, income, education and training, housing and infrastructure, health status, and regional involvement in the criminal justice system. It provides a quantum to discussions of need, aspirations and regional development capacities, as well as a benchmark against which the impact of developmental actions may be assessed.

    eISBN: 978-1-920942-03-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. iii-iv)
    Jon Altman

    This monograph had its genesis in approaches made by Argyle Diamond Mine (ADM) in 2001 to John Taylor to develop a social and economic profile of the population resident within an area potentially influenced by the mine’s presence. This research task was similar to one he prepared for Rio Tinto Ltd in the previous year in south-east Arnhem Land subsequently enhanced and published as CAEPR Monograph No. 18 Ngukurr at the Millennium: A Baseline Profile for Social Impact Planning in South-East Arnhem Land (J. Taylor, J. Bern and K.A. Senior). However, practical steps in pursuit of ADM’s research objective were...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. List of figures and tables
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Abbreviations and acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. 1. Analytical framework
    (pp. 1-6)

    This study develops and presents social indicators for the population resident within a region (referred to here as the Northern East Kimberley region) defined as relevant to the purposes of constructing a new comprehensive agreement over future activities in the Argyle Diamond Mine (ADM) lease area in the East Kimberley. Its initial aim was to provide statistical input to assist negotiations towards this agreement as well as to provide a baseline against which subsequent monitoring of the impact of any agreement could take place. It is presented here, however, with a much broader remit as a case study in regional...

  8. 2. Demography of the East Kimberley and Northern East Kimberley
    (pp. 7-22)

    A range of counts and estimates are available for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations of the East Kimberley. For example, the ABS provides a de facto count of people who were deemed to be present in the region on census night (7 August 2001 at the most recent census). Then, there is a de jure count of people across Australia who indicated that one of the two East Kimberley SLAs was their usual place of residence on census night. These two counts are also available for Indigenous Areas found within the Northern East Kimberley. Finally, in recognition of the fact...

  9. 3. Aboriginal participation in the regional labour market
    (pp. 23-40)

    As with most Aboriginal settlements in north Australia, those in the Northern East Kimberley were established without a modern economic base, and have not subsequently acquired one, at least not in a manner that is currently sustainable beyond the provisions of the welfare state. Basically, the shift out of pastoral employment a generation ago has yet to be replaced with any firm engagement by local Aboriginal people in the emergent regional labour market which is dominated by employment in irrigated agriculture, mining, tourism, and the provision of government services.

    While it is true that the overall employment rate for Aboriginal...

  10. 4. Employment and welfare income
    (pp. 41-46)

    Aboriginal people in the East Kimberley have a number of potential sources of cash income. These range from wage labour in CDEP, or in other more mainstream forms of work, unemployment benefit and other benefit payments from Centrelink, compensation or other agreed payments to traditional land owners, and private income from the sale of art works, crafts and other products. Set against these, of course, are routine deductions from income at source, such as those for house rent and power charges.

    Accurate data on income levels, and employment and non-employment sources of income, are notoriously difficult to obtain due to...

  11. 5. Education and training: participation and outcomes
    (pp. 47-60)

    There are two broad perspectives against which the purpose and performance of education in the region may be assessed. The first is culturally grounded and considers what Aboriginal people want from education. According to one analyst, with reference to Arnhem Land communities, many Aboriginal people selectively procure aspects of Western education and ignore others that do not suit their needs and aspirations (Schwab 1998). Consequently, what is desired from education in general, and from schools in particular, can be very different to what these Western institutions expect. These desires have been conceptualised in terms of the acquisition of core competencies...

  12. 6. Housing and infrastructure
    (pp. 61-74)

    By the beginning of the 1980s, the migration of Aboriginal people off East Kimberley pastoral properties and in to urban areas and emergent communities had placed considerable strain on available housing stock in the region and added to the pressures for new dwelling construction. At the 1981 Census, a total of 295 Aboriginal dwellings were identified in the Northern East Kimberley, housing a total of 1,835 residents to produce an average occupancy rate of 6.2 persons per dwelling. However, 17% of these dwellings were improvised shelters or caravans, and so the average occupancy rate calculated as a ratio of standard...

  13. 7. Health status
    (pp. 75-98)

    Information on the health status of Aboriginal people is collected as a matter of course in the day-to-day operation of the health care system in the East Kimberley. Couzos and Murray (1999) have summarised the scope, content and quality of health information available for the Kimberley region as a whole, concluding that the implementation of an evidence-based approach to primary health care, including the use of information technology, provides the key to successful health care delivery for the region. At the same time, public access to primary health care data is limited. Thus, while the Ferret data base of the...

  14. 8. Regional involvement in the Western Australian criminal justice system
    (pp. 99-110)

    At the 1994 NATSIS, an estimated 35% of Aboriginal people aged 13 years and over in the East Kimberley reported that they had been arrested by police in the previous five years (ABS 1996: 70). This was by far the highest arrest rate reported out of all the ATSIC Regions in the country (only one other region, Ceduna with 32%, reported a rate over 30%). In Western Australia as a whole the rate was 25%, while rates for the West Kimberley were 25% in Broome and 16% for Derby. More recently, a survey based on a wide sample of Kimberley...

  15. 9. Implications, dilemmas, and the way ahead
    (pp. 111-118)

    The purpose of this analysis has been to portray the social and economic status of the population resident within the Northern East Kimberley at a point in time prior to either the winding down and ultimate cessation of mining activities at Argyle Diamond Mine, or the commencement of new operations and extension of the life of the mine to around 2020. To this extent, the baseline provided sits at a crossroads with options for future social and economic outcomes still the subject of negotiation between traditional owners, mine management and the State government. The value of such a profile is...

  16. References
    (pp. 119-124)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 125-126)