Deal secures future of SA remote Indigenous communities

Santa Teresa Aboriginal Community, 80 kilometres east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (AAP)

A multi-million dollar deal between the Federal and South Australian governments has secured the future of remote Indigenous communities, but the fate of their Western Australian counterparts remains in limbo.

More than 1500 members of the remote Indigenous communities will be able to remain in their homes under the $15 million agreement, signed by the Federal and South Australian governments on Monday.

Under the deal, the South Australian Government will deliver municipal and essential services - including power, water, and sewage and rubbish collection - to the state’s remote Indigenous communities from July 1.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the funding would secure the future of communities outside the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara region in the north west of the state.

Senator Scullion described the announcement as an historic and “positive move away from the ad hoc” service delivery provided to date.

A compromise announced this morning will also see the Federal Government continue to pay for services in the APY Lands, for the time being.

The funding announcement follows widespread protests against the closure of up to 150 remote communities in Western Australia.

The WA Government has cited cuts in federal funding as the reasons for the expected closures, which were initially flagged seven months ago.

A spokesperson for Senator Scullion said an agreement had been reached with the WA Government in September, when the state government accepted $90 million in funding to take on responsibility for delivering the essential services.

The spokesperson said the future of the 150-odd remote Indigenous communities now lay with state politicians.

"The future of remote communities in Western Australia is a matter for the WA Government and does not relate in any way to financial arrangements between that state and the Commonwealth for municipal services," they said.

"... It is up to the WA Government to determine the level of services it provides to remote communities."

But Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues Rachel Siewert has urged her Liberal counterpart to reinstate the funding, stating that “communities, the broader public and the Senate all oppose the forceful closures of these communities”.

“They deserve to remain,” Senator Siewert said.

“It is time for Senator Scullion to do the right thing”.

Her push follows that from former One Nation Party politician Pauline Hanson, who told NITV News that the choice by Indigenous people to stay in remote communities needed to be respected.

Source SBS

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch