Nearly a third of Indigenous Australians live in a remote settlement. This page provides information on some of the communities Nigel visits in his role as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, and as a Territorian who loves ‘getting out bush’.
Wadeye, pronounced Wad-air and also known as Port Keats, is the largest Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, situated on the western edge of the Daly River Reserve near the West Australian border. In February, Nigel visited Wadeye to talk with residents about income quarantining, and to inspect the first two houses built under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program.
Before European settlement, Maccasan fishermen visited by boat and traded for trepang with the locals living along the coast. Today, Wadeye has around 2,000 residents from 21 different clan groups. This has created conflict in the past, particularly regarding the way in which important decisions are made. There are seven languages: Murrinhpatha is the main language spoken.
In July 2009, Nigel went to hear the concerns of the residents of Ampilawatja, a remote town 320km north east of Alice Springs. The locals had walked off the community after sewerage broke down and nobody came to fix it for several days. Semi-permanent pools of sewage were visible next to the general store and a children’s playground. The locals were incredibly disappointed that no one had visited or tried to contact them in regard to the walk off. Despite a 5-year lease agreement promising new housing, nothing has been delivered and much-needed repairs to existing infrastructure are long overdue.
The residents are continuing their protest and a representative has completed a national tour of Australia, raising funds for a bore and shower and toilet facilities at their new site. It seems obvious that in order to get the houses they were promised, they need to build them themselves. The community has forged a partnership with the Maritime Workers Union and the CFMEU to begin building.