Aboriginal Community Navigators appointed in wake of Kimberley floods

17 February 2023

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has appointed Community Navigators to support flood relief efforts within First Nations communities in the Kimberley.

A Unit Leader and three Community Navigators will work with the Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Walmajarri and Nyikina communities in the Fitzroy Valley, which were all impacted by last month's devastating once-in-a-century flood events.


The Community Navigators are equipped with local knowledge and an understanding of the complexities of their communities, including kinship systems and languages. They will support community engagement in the flood response, disseminating important information relating to assistance from State Government agencies and helping coordinate repatriations.


The initiative has been established in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. It is designed to complement DFES' focus on a region-led response, with Community Navigators acting as a bridge between affected communities and Government.


The State Government appointed a State Recovery Coordinator earlier this month. This additional support operates alongside jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements that has already been announced for the shires of Derby-West Kimberley, Broome, Wyndham East-Kimberley and Halls Creek.


Comments attributed to Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson:


"I am pleased to announce the Community Navigators initiative, which is a first of its kind for Western Australia.


"The program will support Aboriginal communities by working as a bridge between them and the Incident Management Team. This will improve outcomes for Indigenous people impacted by the devastating Kimberley floods.


"Community Navigators will work together with communities and stakeholders to better identify community priorities, and will play an important role in the wider region's recovery."


Comments attributed to Environment Minister Reece Whitby:


"This is an important program to help our flood affected Aboriginal communities in the long road to recovery. 


"These Community Navigators are equipped with the best local knowledge to provide support to those in need.


"I recently witnessed the devastation first-hand and was inspired by the community's resilience and determination, particularly the local Aboriginal rangers."


Comments attributed to Kimberley MLA Divina D'Anna:


"The importance of local knowledge and experience cannot be understated, and I am very happy with the appointment of the Community Navigators who will be working in partnership with State Government agencies and community members to support flood relief efforts in the Kimberley.


"The devastation that has resulted from this flooding event is phenomenal. This ground-breaking initiative is most welcome as we work with community in our recovery efforts."


Minister's office - 6552 5800