ABORIGINAL SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
Between August 2009 and January 2010 the Kimberley Land Council will be running the first phase of an Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment (ASIA) of the proposed Gas Processing Precinct. In 2010 the Federal Government in Canberra will decide whether the Gas Precinct should be allowed to go ahead and, if it is, what conditions should be placed on the project. Those conditions will help make sure that the Gas Precinct does not have any bad effects on land on sea country, on Aboriginal people, or on their cultural heritage.
The Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment will allow Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal people affected by the Gas Precinct to have a loud and clear voice when the Federal Government makes its decisions. It will help them make sure that the Federal Government is aware of their hopes and concerns, and that strict conditions are imposed to make sure that no damage happens to people, country or culture as a result of the Gas Precinct.
Also, the Federal Government has promised to spend extra money in the West Kimberley over the next four years. The Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment will provide useful information about Aboriginal people’s most urgent needs in terms of services such as health, housing, education, training, and support for land management and culture. This will allow the KLC and other Kimberley organizations to tell the Federal Government how the extra funding should be spent.
The Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment will:
- Give people a lot of information about the Gas Precinct, including how big it will be, what will happen there, how many people will be working there, how many ships will come in and out of the harbour to take the gas away, and so on;
- Give them information about the Heads of Agreement that has been negotiated between the KLC, Traditional Owners, Woodside Energy Ltd., and the Western Australia government, and which will create benefits both for the Traditional Owners, for other affected Aboriginal people on the Dampier Peninsula, and for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region;
- Pull together information on how affected Aboriginal people live today and what they need most urgently to help make their lives better;
- Ask them for their views about the Gas Precinct, what good things they feel might come out of it, and what bad things they might be worried about;
- Talk to people about what needs to happen to make sure that Aboriginal people are able to make the most of opportunities the Gas Precinct will create in areas like employment and training, business development, and helping people to look after and enjoy their land and sea country.
The Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment team will write a report to the Federal Government setting out views of the Traditional Owners and other affected Aboriginal people.
They will also write a report to the KLC and Traditional Owner negotiators who will be negotiating a detailed Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Woodside and Western Australia, telling the negotiators what is most important to people and what they should push hard for in the negotiations.
The Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment team will hold meetings for affected native title groups in Broome, Derby, and Dampier Peninsula communities and outstations in September and October 2009. Meetings will also be held for other Aboriginal people affected by the Gas Precinct, and Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment team members will be available to meet with individuals or family groups for more detailed discussions and to allow people to express their views in private if they prefer.
In coming weeks the Kimberley Land Council will circulate information widely about the Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment, including meeting dates and venues.
In the meantime, if you want more information you can contact the Community Consultation Coordinator, Divina D’Anna, at the KLC Gas Office, 91937344.