• Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt visiting Mornington Island. (Supplied: Michael McCormack Twitter )Source: Supplied: Michael McCormack Twitter
Mornington Island Mayor Kyle Yanner is hopeful the visit by Ken Wyatt and Michael McCormack can be a first step towards addressing issues including homelessness, overcrowding and chronic disease.
Sarah Collard

15 Jun 2021 - 3:49 PM  UPDATED 15 Jun 2021 - 3:49 PM

A group of senior cabinet ministers have answered a call for help from the mayor of Mornington Island, visiting the community to hear the concerns of residents.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack joined Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt for the trip to the Gulf community to meet with mayor Kyle Yanner on the weekend.

Mr Yanner told NITV News he wanted the pair to see the conditions the island's residents faced.

"We've got two or three families living in the one home. (We took) them to the homes to see the overcrowding for themselves — four mattresses in the one room," he said. 

"I think they were shocked, but they really sat down with people in the community and seemed to hear them, sat with the old people, the young people. They weren't on guard."

The population of Mornington Island is almost 90 per cent First Nations and is one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country.

A recent audit of the community provided some damning statistics, Mr Yanner said, with chronic diseases rife including diabetes, heart disease, mental health issues and kidney failure prevalent.

"The conditions my people are living in are terrible... (They are) sick, (in) poor health, dying in their 40s or even 30s." he said.

Yanner has reached out to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and also visited Canberra with a coalition of remote leaders before the visit on Sunday.

Speaking to the Courier Mail after the visit, Mr McCormack said he will head back to Canberra to discuss ways in which the Federal Government can address some of the issues on the island, with ideas for a market garden and cattle stations already discussed.

“Certainly Ken and I ... we will be discussing with our colleagues as to how best to help Kyle and his community," he said.

"This fellow came to Canberra with not just some issues – but also some resolutions and some solutions as to how we might help the island community fix them."

Mayor Yanner wants the full potential of the region to be unlocked.

"We have the potential. We can start something and the solutions are here already... Tourism, attractions, our pristine land. There is so much here that we can do and use," he said.

"It's not simply a case of throwing money at a problem; we want administration and finance capacities to be successful and build that capacity. 

"Throwing money at something, and then having it fail, is almost an easy way out." 

Remote leaders demand Federal action on health, welfare issues
First Nations representatives from the Torres Strait and far north Queensland have travelled to Canberra to call for better investment on issues including housing, health, employment and food pricing.