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Communities in Western Australia's Kimberley region are working to dispel the image of remote Aboriginal communities as dysfunctional and directionless with the launch of a report outlining environmentally and culturally appropriate development options for the region.
"This report shows the people of the Kimberley want their region to develop in a way that balances economic, community, cultural and environmental needs," said Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director Don Henry at the report launch in Broome.
"The Kimberley has all the vital ingredients for a sustainable future - tourism, arts and culture, bush tucker, fishing and local people - these need the support of State and Federal Governments and the private sector.
"This report will be a valuable document for people in the government, finance, environment, business and research sectors seeking to understand what the people of the Kimberley believe is possible in their region.
"The natural and cultural assets of the area should form the foundation of the regional economy, not industries that clear land, dam water and negatively impact on Indigenous communities."
The Kimberley Appropriate Economies Roundtable Report is the end product of a two-day meeting organised by ACF, the Kimberley Land Council and Environs Kimberley and held in Fitzroy Crossing in October last year.
The landmark meeting brought together over 100 Australian and international participants - traditional landowners, pastoralists, environmentalists, financiers and others - to discuss options for economic development that are sustainable and supported by local people.
A key message weaving throughout the multi-authored report is that people in the Kimberley want the globally significant natural and cultural values of the region supported, not diminished, by future economic development.
ACF and the Kimberley Land Council have started examining the feasibility of establishing a funding body that would support a 'new and innovative regional economy' for northern Australia.
The report can be downloaded here. (Warning: 5.6MB file)