The Opposition has welcomed the announcement of funding to address crime and dysfunction in the Kimberley, saying it was well past time for the McGowan Government to acknowledge and act on the crisis in the region.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the funding was desperately needed and it was disappointing it had taken this long for the Government to heed community and Opposition calls for help.
“This Labor Government have been dragged, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the situation has reached crisis point on their watch,” Ms Davies said.
“The Opposition has raised this issue on numerous occasions in Parliament only for it to be dismissed by senior Ministers in Government, it’s shocking just how out of touch they have been.”
Ms Davies said the allocation for an on-country residential facility was welcomed and one of the solutions community leaders had been calling for.
“Keeping people on country for rehabilitation is a good first step, but the devil will be in the detail as the project progresses,” she said.
“This is a Government that has relied on spin and rhetoric for five years – the communities in the Kimberley need more than words, they need action.”
Member for Mining and Pastoral Region Neil Thomson said the McGowan Government’s package to break the cycle of youth offending in the Kimberley remained focused on the crimes rather than underlying causes.
“The situation in the Kimberley has been dire and desperate for many people, subjected to the crime and anti-social behaviour over the past two years,” Mr Thomson said.
“Whilst the investment is welcomed, more detail is required to determine if the funding will address the deeper issues being experienced in the region.
“We also have serious questions about the allocation of funds, such as $500,000 provided to progress the planning and development of other safe-place residential accommodation.
“The planning for extra housing and accommodation for those most at risk should have already occurred before the region reached its current crisis point.
“This is a budget announcement by a Government with money to spend but limited connection to the broader needs of the region and almost no appetite for true consultation.”
Shadow Minister for Police Peter Collier said that the new funding is a rushed attempt by the McGowan Government to reverse past negligence on the issue.
“It’s a shame that the Labor Government is playing catch-up with regard to this issue,” Mr Collier said.
“The Opposition has been consistently calling for early intervention to assist youth crime in the Kimberley region, in addition to a police blitz to resolve the current endemic crime problems.”