20 June 2002

Race Relations in Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr William Jonas, today wrote to key organisations in Kalgoorlie-Boulder about the outcome of a recent Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission visit.

Dr Jonas has written to major Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives and will visit the city on 3 July to discuss the recommendations with interested parties.

Staff of the Commission, with a representative of the State Equal Opportunity Commission, visited Kalgoorlie-Boulder in May following expressions of concern about deteriorating race relations in the city.

"My staff consulted widely with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Kalgoorlie," Dr Jonas said. "I appreciate the cooperation and assistance they received from townspeople.

"The staff heard allegations about the behaviour and attitudes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and organisations which have combined to create a situation that is complex and grave."

"However, the staff were also told about many initiatives and activities - by Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies - aimed at improving conditions, treatment and community relations."

Dr Jonas said there were two underlying issues which, if addressed by the community, could help to resolve shared issues of concern:

1. There is a significant lack of accurate information in the community eg about legal rights and obligations; about other cultures, especially Indigenous culture and history; and about the roles and responsibilities of agencies.

2. Community leaders are not consulting as fully and effectively as they should.

Dr Jonas has recommended two linked strategies:

1. Training: That the WA EOC and HREOC develop and deliver a training/outreach strategy for key sectors of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community.

2. Consultation: That an experienced mediator be engaged to assist the following parties to develop an Indigenous consultation protocol:

  • Safer WA Interagency
  • City Council
  • Wongatha Regional Council
  • Kalgoorlie-Boulder Indigenous Coalition

"I am hopeful that there will be continuing goodwill among the parties to improve community relations - by learning more about each other, talking to each other effectively and building a relationship of mutual respect and trust," Dr Jonas said.

Media contact: Janine MacDonald (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347

Last updated 22 January 2003.