Article by: Hari Yellina
The WA government made an unexpected announcement this week, promising $15 million for an innovative rehabilitation centre for at-risk youngsters on a Kimberley cattle ranch. However, the chief proponent has not received confirmation that their proposal is the one being approved, thus uncertainties about who is operating the proposed programme persist. Alannah MacTiernan, the Minister for Regional Development, has announced a $15 million residential facility on Myroodah Station to divert adolescents from imprisonment in Perth. It was part of a $40 million package aimed at reducing adolescent criminality in the area.
The Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company (KAPCO) owns Myroodah Station, which is 130 kilometres south-east of Derby and which KRED Enterprises had already identified for their $15 million restoration project. The initiative, known as “Marlamanu” (the Walmajarri word for “help”), was introduced in 2017 and is aimed to bring at-risk youth to the Aboriginal-run station for six months of pastoral skills, cultural learning, schooling, and physical work. Damien Parriman, the CEO of KRED Enterprises, said the company has yet to receive confirmation from the government that it had been chosen to carry out the pilot project. “We’ve heard we’re the front runner,” he added, adding that “it hasn’t been confirmed that this project has been given the green light yet.” “However, we have already had some conversations regarding possible major responsibilities inside the initiative.”
Marlamanu, according to Mr Parriman, is a six-to-12-month programme for up to 20 teenage boys. He explained, “It’ll focus around the weaner facility, taking care of the calves when they’re taken away from their mothers.” “The programme will provide an organised setting in which individuals can work, learn, and develop.” According to the Marlamanu proposal, one in every five Indigenous adolescents has had contact with the legal system, a ratio that Mr Parriman believes has risen since the project’s initial research in 2017. The therapy, which was created in collaboration with Traditional Owners from Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, and Bidyadanga, will also include the participants’ families.
While the Kimberley’s commitment to an alternate on-country sentencing option has been welcomed, Millie Hills of Halls Creek believes there should be many sites throughout the region. “Perhaps we should look at two or three other regions,” she speculated. “One could be in the desert, in the mountains, or on the coast somewhere.” So, they [the participants] will be exposed to three different environments, which we can switch around. Despite the necessity for a number of cultural, environmental, and administrative licences, the state administration has set a start date of early 2023. A representative for Ms MacTiernan said in a statement that the government acknowledged “considerable work to get the idea going.” “All key Government departments will be involved in the intensive design and approval phase over the following three months,” the statement stated.