Newman is a community crying out for help
The Nationals WA have called on the McGowan Government to respond to the Newman community’s call for help as the Pilbara town grapples with rising social issues and hundreds of abandoned houses.
Leader Mia Davies and Deputy Leader Jacqui Boydell visited Newman earlier this month to see firsthand how pockets of the town had deteriorated.
“The statistics are damning. Some 500 homes, the equivalent of 20 per cent of the town’s entire housing stock, are empty,” Ms Davies said.
Mia Davies and Jacqui Boydell at one of the many abandoned BHP homes
“It’s confronting, particularly in East Newman where there were piles of shattered glass, burnt-out car bodies on front verges, rubbish strewn yards, boarded up windows and the unmistakable signs of systematic neglect
“Newman is a community that is crying out for help.”
Ms Davies said more than 160 homes were in a state of disrepair across Newman.
“This situation is being compounded by rows upon rows of boarded up BHP housing stock,” Ms Davies said. “Police statistics show a clear correlation between streets with empty housing and crime hotspots.
“If BHP and the State Government were making a more conscious effort to fill or on-sell their properties some of these issues could be resolved.
“The Government needs to not only be looking after its own housing stock but also having a serious conversation with BHP around the future of their stock and encouraging them to employ a residential workforce over FIFO.”
Ms Boydell said the Shire of East Pilbara had been seeking assistance from Government to deal with the challenges they are facing, including rising juvenile crime, lack of support services and struggles to attract or keep staff.
“I see the same indicators here in Newman that were present in Kalgoorlie before that community reached a crisis point – the Government needs to act now and support the Shire council,” she said.
“At the very least they could start by locating senior staff from the Department of Communities and Housing in town.”
Ms Davies said it was not all doom and gloom in Newman and the town had aspirations of becoming more than just a FIFO dormitory town.
“Newman should be a must-stop on the well-beaten tourist trail to Karijini National Park and a gateway to the North West,” she said.
“There are sections of Newman that are amazing; you go to some of the facilities that were supported by the previous State Government and received Royalties for Regions investment and you see the potential that this community has.
“You see the Martumili Artists centre and cultural precinct, a fantastic and beautifully unique asset, you see the redevelopment of the main street and the reinvigorated town square.
"This is a community that is seeking to thrive, not barely survive.”