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Social problems focus of Kalgoorlie summit

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016

Kalgoorlie's local council denies the Goldfields town is in a "state of social emergency", as declared by the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA.

Ahead of a summit to discuss the town's social problems on the weekend, to be attended by Premier Colin Barnett, ALSWA chief executive Dennis Eggington has urged local, state and federal governments to immediately provide funding for youth centres.

City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder chief executive John Walker said the death in August of 14-year-old Aboriginal boy Elijah Doughty, who was allegedly deliberately run down while riding a stolen motorbike, was a "tipping point" for tensions, but denied the town was in crisis.

Rioting erupted after a 55-year-old man was charged with manslaughter over the teen's death, while his rental home was torched the following month.

"There is certainly some social disquiet and no doubt tensions that exist around the town," Mr Walker told ABC radio on Friday.

"No doubt what happened in August made us all sit back and say 'we've got a serious problem that we're not addressing well'.

"And that's not just the city - we believe the state and other agencies that are involved in Kalgoorlie probably weren't getting the best results, and clearly the town is divided in some areas."

Social cohesion was just one issue along with the town's economic health and liveability, he said.

In declaring a state of emergency, Mr Eggington said it was appalling the council had subsidised the town's golf club by more than $25 million.

"This is despite crying poor in relation to finding funds to divert indigenous young people from the judicial system, unable to even fund a drop-in centre," he said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion will also attend the summit.

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