Reform of indigenous affairs sector in WA

Rebecca Gredley

The West Australian minister for Aboriginal Affairs says he plans to reform the sector, and has not ruled out abolishing his own department.

Ben Wyatt, who made history as the first indigenous treasurer when Labor recently won the state election, said there was dissatisfaction as legislation was from the early 1970s and outdated.

"There's frustration from Aboriginal people, from government, and indeed the public servants within the department," he told AAP on Wednesday.

"The legislation no longer enables them do that they want to do, or what needs to be done."

After his opening address at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA's conference, Mr Wyatt said all options were on the table for reforms, not ruling out abolishing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs or introducing a government advocate.

Members of the community expressed frustration at the department, with Mr Wyatt saying "paternalistic" legislation needed to better reflect the modern relationship between the indigenous and government, which he hoped to improve.

"You have to involve Aboriginal people in the process of decisions that impact on them," he said.

Mr Wyatt said health was the biggest challenge for the aboriginal community as there were large numbers of people with chronic disease, and said health minister Roger Cook wanted to see better results and accountability.

The former Barnett government flagged the closure of up to 150 remote indigenous communities in WA in late 2014, which Mr Wyatt described as belligerent and disrespectful.

He hoped there would be relief that this was no longer happening, and that he would work to ensure Aboriginal communities had greater legal rights to live where they do.

"I'll be a minister for a very short period of time in the grand sweep of history," he said.

"If I can reform and update the legislation that governs the relationship between Aboriginal people and the government, I'll be very pleased."