Vast distances and relatively small populations characterise the Kimberley Region. As a consequence communications is a vital aspect of infrastructure and it is a major challenge to deliver affordable services.
The six major population centres: Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham and Kununurra have access to the national telecommunications network, ABC national television, SBS, WIN and GWN commercial television as well as digital television and radio cahnnels. A community TV station, GTV 35, operates in Broome.
Standard Telephone Services and payphones are provided by Telstra. A standard telephone landline connection is provided to all houses and businesses.
Telstra's Next G network is the primary mobile phone network in the Kimberley due to its significant coverage range. Other networks can be effective in regional towns.
Residential broadband internet access is available using ADSL, Satellite and Wireless technologies.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is available in all Kimberley towns and satellite coverage across the region.
COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTRES
Regional Community Resource Centres (formerly known as Telecentres) ensure that individuals, businesses and community groups have access to the economic and social benefits offered by computers, satellite communications, the Internet, videoconferencing and on-line services and are located throughout the region. A range of Community Resource Centres facilities have also been installed in a number of remote communities across the region.
More information can be found on the Community Resource Centre homepage.
Primary & Secondary Education
Primary and secondary education is provided by both government and non-government schools. The State Government provides education facilities up to Year 10 in all Kimberley towns at district high schools. Fully taught Years 11 and 12 are also available at Broome Senior High School and there are plans for a significant upgrade of post-secondary facilities at the Kununurra District High School. Some senior secondary subjects are offered by distance education at district high schools located in the region's towns and major communities. Alternatively, students may remain in any part of the region and elect to complete secondary schooling by distance education.
The Kimberley School of the Air at Derby services students in remote locations across the region using a range of communications technologies.
The Catholic Education Office of WA provides educational programs from Kindergarten to Year 12 at St Mary's College in Broome. Kindergarten to Year 10 is offered at Beagle Bay, Lombadina, Warmun, Balgo, Lake Gregory and Billiluna. Education programs up to Year 7 are offered at Derby, Red Hill, Gibb River, Kununurra, Wyndham and Ringers Soak. Adult education is offered at Lake Gregory and Billiluna.
Aboriginal Independent Community Schools Across the region there are six Aboriginal Independent Community Schools operating in remote communities offering a range of kindergarten to Year 7 and kindergarten to Year 10 curriculum.
Student Assisted Travel Scheme
Many students from the Kimberley elect to complete their study in Perth or other regional centres, and are assisted by the Student Assisted Travel Scheme operated by the Western Australian Government.
The Kimberley Training Institute offers post-secondary education through its centres in Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham. The Broome Campus has established an Aquaculture annexe at the Broome Tropical Aquaculture Park. Facilities were previously upgraded in Kununurra, Wyndham and Halls Creek. These developments have significantly increased post-compulsory education services available in the region.
The University of Notre Dame established its Broome Campus in 1998 and has been expanding the range of courses on an ongoing basis.
Edith Cowan University has a School of Indigenous Studies in Broome and is a contact point for the many students in the Kimberley. Indigenous students utilise the centre for tutorial support, administration, computer access and library services. Courses are available in Business, Education, Social Sciences Indigenous Services, Arts and the Indigenous University Orientation Course designed for indigenous students who wish to gain access to tertiary studies.
Education Support Facilities
Other education support facilities in the region include Telecentres located in Broome, Halls Creek, Wyndham and Kununurra, which offer access through video-conferencing and other electronic facilities.
Horizon Power provides the Region's urban centres with electricity, using independent diesel oil generators in all centres except Kununurra and Wyndham where hydro-electric power is utilised.
In 2004, the State Government contracted Energy Developments Limited (EDL) to replace existing power stations in Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Camballin-Looma. This project will ensure the Region's growing energy needs are met. The Broome power station is expected to be operational in 2006/07, with the other four power stations to follow. Under the agreement, four of the power stations will be liquefied natural gas-fuelled and one diesel-fuelled. These power stations will have an initial generating capacity of 52 MW, potentially increasing to 76 MW.
A privately owned 30 MW hydroelectric power generation station is operating at the Ord River Dam on Lake Argyle, 80 kilometres south of Kununurra. The station is the largest single contributor to renewable energy electricity generation in WA and provides electricity to the Argyle Diamond Mine and the towns of Kununurra and Wyndham.
The State Government established the Aboriginal Community Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) program in 2005. This program provides rebates for renewable energy power systems serving Aboriginal communities in off-grid areas of WA, replacing the need for diesel-powered generators. Five communities in the Kimberley will initially participate in the scheme in 2006, with Western Power coordinating the project in conjunction with the Sustainable Energy Development Office. A second round of communities are expected to take part in the program by 2008.
A similar program provides renewable energy based water pumps to replace diesel-based pumps in off-grid areas. Over forty pumps have been installed, in remote locations across the Kimberley, including six in Indigenous communities.
UTILITIES IN REMOTE STATIONS & COMMUNITIES
In 1997 the Remote Areas Essential Services Program (RAESP) was established. Under this program regional service providers undertake the essential repair and maintenance work on remote regional utilities, previously carried out by both Western Power and the Water Corporation. Regional service providers provide training in the operation of essential services to 44 Aboriginal communities. The training company is selected through a tender process.
Broome, Derby, Kununurra have a Chamber of Commerce in their respective towns whilst and combined Chamber of Commerce services Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek. Chambers of Commerce participate in a wide range of business development and support activities. The Chambers also focus upon areas of specific interest, including an involvement with information seminars and discussion forums on a range of issues such as small business activities and support, employment, taxation matters, promotion of the region and industrial relations.
Small Business Centres operate in Kununurra, Derby and Broome and offer free assistance and support to new and existing businesses, thereby complementing specialist services, such as accountants, financial and educational institutions and consultants. A management committee with representatives from business, private sector organisations and local government, support a manager to provide the service and contribute towards improving small business skills in the Region.
COMMUNITY & VOLUNTEER ORGANISATIONS
Community and volunteer organisations, contribute towards the region's sense of community spirit and wellbeing. Dedicated committee members provide a range of services supporting festivals, sporting events, counselling, general activities and community services.
A range of integrated facilities, located across the Region, deliver health services in the Kimberley. Hospitals at Derby, Broome, Halls Creek, Wyndham, Fitzroy Crossing and Kununurra are complemented by community clinics, which exist in many remote localities. The Region has access to a range of specialist services including aged care facilities, dialysis capabilities, mental health and rehabilitation services.
Kimberley health services will benefit from the State Government's commitment of $77 million towards upgrading health in the Region between 2003 and 2007. Broome Hospital during 2005 and 2006 will receive additional inpatient beds, new laundry, stores, workshops and a theatre block. Additions to the Medical Imaging Department will house a new Computerised Tomography scanner that will be operational in 2006. The inpatient unit and dental facilities at Derby Hospital will also be upgraded in 2006. A new hospital at Fitzroy Crossing was completed in 2007 and a new hospital was completed at Hall's Creek in 2005. Development of health service facilities at Wyndham and Kununurra are also in progress.
The Satellite Dialysis facility in Broome enables up to 40 patients per week to receive treatment. The facility, which is unique in Australia, is managed by the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and is supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council and Broome Health Services. A renal dialysis outpatient accommodation facility has also been established in Broome.
A number of independent community health organisations deliver targeted services into some of the remote communities across the Region. The Royal Flying Doctor Service based in Derby conducts routine clinical and medical consultations in remote communities and pastoral properties. It also provides a 24-hour emergency aero-medical service across the Region.
The Kimberley transport network comprises air, sea and road infrastructure and related services. Transport is critical to all aspects of the community and business in the Kimberley due to the wide distribution of the regional population and distances between major markets and suppliers. The Region is remote from major Australian capital cities, with Broome and Kununurra being 2,213 km and 3,205 km respectively, by road, from Perth. Road distances between the six main regional centres are large. For example the distance between Broome and Derby is 220 km and it is approximately 1,100 km between Broome and Kununurra.
Historically, the major mode of transport into the Region was by sea, with Broome, Derby and Wyndham ports being the gateways for the Region's imports and exports. These ports continue to operate as trade links for the Region. The State Government continues to support the north-west shipping service as it operates between the ports of Fremantle, Broome, Wyndham and Darwin.
The Port of Derby operated as an export facility for lead/zinc concentrate from 1997 to 2003 and used barges to convey commodities into and out of the Port. The Port's facilities are being upgraded and will be complete by mid 2006. This will include a modern fender system, a new barge landing facility and floating breakwater.
Live cattle, mining and other agricultural commodities are exported and general cargo and fuel is imported into the Region through the Ports of Broome and Wyndham. Naval vessels, fishing vessels, pearling and tourism vessels also use these ports. For example cruise ships use Broome as a stopover point, enhancing tourist income to the Region, while improving the exposure of the Kimberley as a tourism destination.
Facilities at the Port of Broome have been substantially upgraded with a 148 metre jetty extension and the establishment of support facilities for the offshore oil and gas exploration industry and other users. The Port of Broome can accommodate vessels up to 40,000 tonnes, which with the completion of upgrades in 2006, will increase to 50,000 tonnes.
Wyndham Port can accommodate vessels up to 26,000 tonnes and has the facilities for night operations. It is expected that mining operations in the East Kimberley and Ord River Irrigation Scheme, following its expansion will utilise the Port of Wyndham.
Derby Port was originally designed to handle vessels up to 15,000 tonnes. Barge landing facilities are available at Derby and Wyndham and small craft facilities are available at Broome, Derby and Wyndham.
The Kimberley has an extensive network of airports and airstrips, including all-weather jet airports at Broome, Derby South (the RAAF Curtin Airbase), Derby (town) and Kununurra. The Broome International Airport has an extended landing strip to cater for large jet aircraft. Sealed regional airstrips are available at Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Wyndham. A network of landing areas for general aviation aircraft, the delivery of essential services, such as mail to indigenous communities, pastoral stations and Royal Flying Doctor Services are also available.
Regular passenger services are provided to and from the Region from Perth, Darwin, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Qantas, SkyWest, Virgin Blue, and Air north provide air services to cater for a wide range of clients, including business and tourism demands. Golden Eagle Airlines provides regular connector services between regional centres in the Kimberley and a range of local charter operators provide services across the Region.
The extensive distance between centres and communities in the Kimberley places a high importance on the regional road network. An extensive network of over 7,700 kilometres of roads services the Region's towns, communities and resource development projects. The Great Northern Highway provides a sealed link across the Region. It extends from the North West Coastal Highway in the Pilbara and connects to the Northern Territory, linking the largest regional centres.
Passenger coach services operate along the Great Northern Highway. Comprehensive road freight services are provided by a number of transport companies with a delivery time ranging from Perth to Broome of two to three days and Perth to Kununurra of three to four days. Depot facilities are located in all Kimberley towns. The pastoral industry is heavily reliant upon the Region's road systems to transport approximately 130,000 head of cattle to regional ports each year.
Heavy rains associated with the wet season can isolate sections of the road network and provides a challenge in providing consistent road freight delivery.
The Kimberley holds 80 per cent of the State's divertible, fresh, surface water resources. Water supplies for Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Kununurra are sourced from bore-fields located near the towns. Water is supplied to Wyndham from the Moochalabra Dam. The State's Water Corporation manages all water supplies to the regional towns.
The storage volume (to the top of the spillway) of the main Ord River Dam, Lake Argyle, is 10,763 million cubic metres of water. This equates to a surface area of 980 square kilometres, and serves the Ord River Irrigation Area through an open irrigation scheme which is owned by the Water Corporation and managed by the Ord Irrigation Cooperative