Our remote communities urgently require massive reinvestment to improve living conditions, economic well-being and health outcomes.
There are 755 Aboriginal communities in the NT - 59 Major and 37 Minor, 45 town camps, 614 Outstations. 64 communities and 540 Outstations are located on Aboriginal land. 72 communities are serviced for power, drinking water and sewerage by Indigenous Essential Services, a not for profit subsidiary of Power Water Corporation.
Endemically poor standard of living conditions in remote Aborignal communities leaves inhabitants most vulnerable to outbreaks of disease and killer viruses, natural disasters, and to the impacts of climate change with a rapid increase in average temperatures, extreme heat days, and increasingly unpredictable rainfall.
Economic activity and employment in remote communities is currently largely supported by the government. There are limited non-government commercial activities - mainly in arts and culture and tourism. Royalties from various sources such as mining and land management are significant in some communities. Local people have little control over their local economy.
In all remote communities, council services are a significant employer. Before 2007, they were locally controlled, but the Labor government amalgamated many shires to “improve efficiency” by reducing administrative overhead. This was a radical but under-scrutinised decision, which reduced the capacity of remote communities in the NT.
More than a decade on, the Supershires policy has proven an abject failure .
The NT Greens will pursue empowerment of local Community Government Councils to rebuild community capacity to resume control of local service provision and replace the failed shires model. The path towards reviving the status of local decision making power and governance must be tailored to each community’s vision, ambitions, capacity and needs.
Communities deserve useful and accurate communication about government activities. This necessarily depends upon the development and strengthening of adequate interpreter services.
We will support the formation of decision-making bodies in communities which are representative of all community members and cede control of policy-making to those bodies.
Government has a role in drawing together stakeholders and other organisations with community leaders to share fair partnerships.
We want to invest in strengthening families, providing them with the tools and support they need to give young children the best opportunities to learn and grow.
Community-led schools must be resourced to engage families from early-childhood.
Poor housing and overcrowding underlie many of the issues in remote communities. Large sums of money have been spent on remote housing programs with poor outcomes. Houses are typically erected by a FIFO workforce with minimal involvement of local people.
We will refocus investment in housing for communities and town camps that is tailored to residents needs and developed in a way that maximises employment and training opportunities for local people.
We will end overcrowding.
NT Greens will legislate a right to safe drinking water in the NT.
Essential services will be available to all communities, outstations and town camps, driven by investment in renewable energy solutions.
Clear education and employment pathways need to be tailored to enhance the employment of local residents within the communities. Long term investment and assistance in self-determined enterprise development is needed to ensure local communities can aspire to benefit from their natural assets and economic opportunities - rather than outside business investment ultimately benefiting these opportunities.
Investment in Indigenous land and sea management has provided sustainable employment opportunities delivering important environmental services. All land and seas in the NT need to primarily be managed by traditional owners and Aboriginal communities. This will restore and protect our natural systems and help reduce emissions and capture carbon to tackle climate change. This work needs to be considered an essential service and paid for accordingly. There are extensive social, cultural, economic, and environmental benefits of investing in this essential work and providing this opportunity.
Roberston, H. (2019) Caring for Country: how remote communities are building on payment for ecosystem services. The Conversation.