In Western Australia, the State Government has announced the transfer of the responsibility for power and water services in remote First Nations communities from the Department of Communities to licensed specialists Water Corporation and Horizon Power.
Under the transfer, which commenced from 1 April 2023, 141 remote communities currently serviced by the Department of Communities will transition to improved and more reliable power and water services, enhancing wellbeing outcomes for the around 12,000 residents.
Western Australian Housing Minister, John Carey, said the State Government invested $350 million in the Remote Communities Fund, which will support and improve water and power as well as upgrade housing in remote Aboriginal communities.
“Reliable essential services are important for the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities and are the foundation for healthy and sustainable communities,” Mr Carey said.
“Horizon Power and Water Corporation are specialist and licensed utilities that are expertly placed to manage power and water services.
“Now no matter where you live in Western Australia, it’s clear which utilities are responsible for managing power and water services.”
The transfer includes an initial $200 million investment for upgrades and continued improvements to power and water infrastructure and improvements to water quality, funded by the Western Australian Government’s $350 million Remote Communities Fund.
Western Australian Water Minister, Simone McGurk, said, “Working closely with Horizon Power, the transfer will see Water Corporation commence a long-term program of upgrades to water and wastewater services in the 141 remote Aboriginal communities.
“This will improve health, amenity and economic outcomes for residents, which we know are fundamental to address the inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
“The Western Australian Government is putting in practical and real resources to support Aboriginal people in regional and remote communities.”
Delivered through a collaboration between Water Corporation and Horizon Power, the upgrades, which will be phased in, will bring services into line with comparable communities in Western Australia.
Western Australian Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “Horizon Power has a proven track record of working with remote Aboriginal communities to deliver services that improve outcomes.
“Transitioning power services to Horizon Power will also mean more remote Aboriginal communities will have the opportunity to benefit from the integration of renewables into their power systems.”
The outcomes of the transfer will see the State Government advance its commitment to Outcome Nine of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, as well as address elements of the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy and State Infrastructure Strategy.