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Water Minister Simone McGurk, Clive Aiken from Kimberley Civil and Drainage, and Water Corporation CEO Pat Donovan inspect the new wastewater treatment ponds at Mowanjum (September 2023)

  • 15 Kimberley Aboriginal businesses introduced to State Government's Aboriginal Communities Water Services program
  • Engagement-focused program to improve water services in 141 Aboriginal communities across Western Australia
  • $92 million of Water Corporation contracts awarded to Aboriginal businesses State-wide in 2022-23

Special industry forums have been held in Broome and Kununurra to help Kimberley-based Aboriginal businesses learn about contracting opportunities under the Aboriginal Communities Water Services (ACWS) program.

Hosted by Water Corporation, the forums were designed to introduce attendees to the program, including its objectives, scope, and opportunities to tender for future work on major and minor projects. 

Civil, mechanical and electrical contractors were among 15 local firms at the two events along with various trades services companies.

Announced in mid-2023, as part of an initial $200 million commitment by the Cook Labor Government, the ACWS program, managed by Water Corporation, will improve the standard of water and wastewater services in 141 Aboriginal communities.

Over an initial 10 years, the program will ensure Aboriginal communities have access to reliable drinking water that meets Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and wastewater services that meet or exceed relevant standards under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Water Corporation is working with community residents and relevant representative organisations to foster sustainable relationships grounded in mutual respect.

To date, engagement has commenced with 37 communities to understand their individual water service requirements and help scope future infrastructure projects.

In September 2023, Mowanjum, near Derby, became the first community to receive improved infrastructure under the ACWS program, following an $8.3 million Water Corporation project to enhance wastewater infrastructure.

In 2022-23, Water Corporation awarded 51 contracts to Aboriginal businesses, totalling close to $92 million.

Comments attributed to Water Minister Simone McGurk:

"This program will not only deliver important health and wellbeing outcomes for people living in these communities, it's creating business opportunities for local Aboriginal businesses that will benefit the whole region.

"These forums were a chance to introduce businesses to the program with a view to maximising involvement among local contractors and subcontractors, consistent with the WA Government's Aboriginal Procurement Policy.

"The Aboriginal Communities Water Services program is a long-term commitment by the State Government to improve the standard of water services in these 141 communities. Water Corporation will work with residents at every stage to ensure service improvements and socio-economic outcomes are defined by the community." 

Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti:

"This is a fantastic initiative that will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.

"Clean and reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet the relevant standards are imperative to Closing the Gap and providing Aboriginal people with a strong foundation for the future."

Comments attributed to Kimberley MLA Divina D'Anna:

"It's great to see this vital program creating opportunities for our Aboriginal businesses here in the Kimberley.

"With so many important projects occurring right throughout the region, these community forms provide a terrific opportunity to learn more about the work available now and in the future."

Water Corporation's Aboriginal Communities Water Services fact file

  • Water Corporation's Aboriginal Communities Water Services program manages water services in 141 Aboriginal communities across WA.
  • Over an initial 10 years, it will deliver water infrastructure upgrades to provide safer and more reliable water services.
  • As a State-owned water utility, Water Corporation has the expertise to ensure these Aboriginal communities receive water services that meet or exceed the relevant standard under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
  • Previously, management of water services in these communities sat with Department of Communities before the WA Government transferred responsibility to Water Corporation on 1 July 2023.
  • The 141 communities, of varying sizes, are located in:
    • Kimberley (101 communities);
    • Pilbara and Mid West (26 communities); and
    • Goldfields and Central (14 communities).
  • Water Corporation has overall management of the services with operational support delivered by existing local and Aboriginal-owned regional service providers, who maintain the water services and infrastructure.
  • Improved monitoring and reporting is being implemented to better understand individual requirements and identify potential improvements, following comprehensive infrastructure condition assessments.
  • Communities with critical water service concerns, such as operational safety, water quality and water reliability, will be prioritised for upgrades.
  • Under the previous Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program, Mowanjum, Ardyaloon, Bayulu, Bidyadanga, Djarindjin, Lombadina and Beagle Bay, as well as several town-based communities, were identified as priority communities for water and wastewater upgrades.

For further information on ACWS, visit: