Closure of Communities Sparks Unrest in Australia

Closure of Communities Sparks Unrest in AustraliaClosure of Communities Sparks Unrest in Australia

Government moves to close remote indigenous communities because of alleged social problems and the cost of maintaining them is triggering a new wave of protests planned for next week across Australia.

Western Australia’s government said it can no longer afford to subsidize basic services to communities in the state’s rugged and sprawling Outback. The government also said the communities are plagued by problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, high levels of child abuse and low school attendance rates, USA Today reported.

The government so far has closed one community, Oombulgurri, home to roughly 100 people. Last November, it shuttered its single shop, hospital and school, cut off water and electricity, and bulldozed the settlement after evicting the last remaining residents.

Aboriginal groups point to their spiritual connection to the land that is legally recognized, and they say the government should pay to eradicate the social problems it claims exist rather than close communities. The groups also contend that the real reason the government is preparing to evict indigenous populations is to make way for uranium and coal mining.