• Pilbara’s boom a ‘resource curse’ for some
Pilbara’s boom a ‘resource curse’ for some
11 Jan, 2019, No Comment

Summary: The average income of Aborig­inal people with jobs in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has more than doubled to $93,000 on the back of the resources boom of a lifetime, and the proportion of the region’s indigenous people in upper income brackets has climbed from 10 per cent to 35 per cent.....

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A comprehensive analysis of the living conditions and economic status of indigenous people in the iron ore region between 2001 and 2016 found the boom that peaked in 2013 also contributed to increasing disparity among the region’s 11,700 indigenous people.


The report of the Regional Implementation Committee, funded by Rio Tinto and circulated inside the McGowan Labor government last month, found a mix of results.


There was no change in low school attendance rates but some positive shift in literacy and numeracy; there was less housing need overall among indigenous people and a significant decline in mortality rates for some con­ditions but not most.


When it comes to indigenous people’s contact with police, ­arrest rates are going down for men but not for women in the ­Pilbara. However, arrest rates for indigenous men in the region remain remarkably high; one in four indigenous males older than 10 have been arrested by police at some point. Only 46 per cent of indigenous adults of working age in the Pilbara have jobs.


“While many Aboriginal ­people have clearly benefited from the mining boom, the problem is that not enough have,” the report states.


“As a consequence, despite ­average Aboriginal income from employment more than doubling in real terms to reach $93,000, we have also seen an increase in the Aboriginal rate of poverty in what has become Western Australia’s most expensive region to live.


“If there was ever an indicator of the resource curse at work, it would be this contradiction in economic outcomes.”



The report found a rise in the proportion of Aboriginal people with no income at all. The report was not able to explain why, and speculated those people may have dropped out of the income support system, possibly as a result of penalties imposed by the commonwealth’s strict work-for-the-dole scheme called the Community Development Program.


There is still a big gap between the incomes of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the Pilbara. In 2016, median personal income for Aboriginal adults was $463 a week; for non-Aboriginal adults, it was $1744.


In 2001, only 10 per cent of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara had weekly incomes more than the equivalent of $1000. By 2016, the figure was 35 per cent. Conversely, as much as 72 per cent of Aboriginal weekly incomes were less than $500 in 2001, compared to 52 per cent in 2016.


The proportion of indigenous adults with no income had risen from 6 per cent in 2001 to 16 per cent in 2016.


The report found attendance rates for indigenous students in the Pilbara were steady and low at 70 per cent in primary school and 60 per cent at secondary school.


Experts associate a school attendance rate of 90 per cent with graduation and further training or study.


By high school, only one in five indigenous students — or 700 kids across the Pilbara — is achieving that.


 

Paige Taylor, 11/1/2019, www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/pilbaras-boom-a-resource-curse-for-some/news-story/4c4d7e11bff88349a2f4dcd4d173f572

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