WA to establish Aboriginal Empowerment Unit for resources projects

By Melissa Coade

May 6, 2022

Minister for mines and petroleum and energy Bill Johnston said 80 public housing properties have now had solar installed as part of the trial.
Minister for mines and petroleum and energy Bill Johnston (r). (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

The WA government will spend $14.6 million over the next four years to set up a dedicated unit within its Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to ensure projects and policies are respectful of First Nations culture.

Funding in the 2022-23 state budget will go to establishing a new 29-strong person team, with a view to delivering better outcomes for Aboriginal people in WA. 

The team will be responsible for implementing the department’s Aboriginal Empowerment Initiative (AEI) program, which is the first limb of the government’s Closing the Gap implementation plan

Plans for the unit were unveiled in a joint statement from energy, mines and petroleum minister Bill Johnston and Aboriginal affairs minister Tony Buti on Thursday.

Johnston said the team would ensure First Nations are involved in making decisions about future economic development opportunities for their communities.

“It is important that Western Australian mining and petroleum activities also deliver improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” the minister said. 

 “While there has been much progress, there is still more work that needs to be done to strengthen the capacity of their involvement in resources development.”

The government hopes the AEI can deliver strong relationships and partnerships between First Nations peoples, the broader community and the department, to ‘create and expand economic opportunities in the resources industry’.

The money for the unit will also fund roles for Aboriginal liaison officers, who will be responsible for working with Traditional Owners.

“This initiative contributes to the work being done to expand Aboriginal people’s economic opportunities, which is a priority reform in WA’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan,” Buti said.


WA sets new Aboriginal procurement targets

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