Monday, 15 June 2020
Barton Electorate: Ltyentye Apurte Community
In 2019 students and teachers at St Ursula's College, Kingsgrove, in the electorate of Barton that I represent, attended a school emersion trip to the Northern Territory and to the Ltyentye Apurte Community, also known Santa Teresa. The Ltyentye Apurte Community is an Arrernte Indigenous community and is located about 80 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs. The community is governed by the Community Government Council, which runs the health services and some other facilities. Also, in 2019, Ltyentye Apurte Community won the Australia Tidy Towns competition and was named Australia's most sustainable community, which is an amazing outcome. Nevertheless, while visiting in this community, the students and teachers were made aware that this community also suffers, like many First Nations people, from appalling housing. These students and teachers decided to act, and over 600 caring individuals from the local school community have now written petitioning the government to act. The petition notes that conditions of Indigenous housing in this community are directly influenced by the actions of the government and its housing maintenance programs, and this program is failing. Families are often left without basic repairs for months on end, while some other families do not have running water.
The petition also raises the issue of overcrowding. This community does not have enough homes to meet the needs of the residents. The combined effects of poor-quality housing and overcrowding is seriously impacting on the health and wellbeing of this community, so specifically this petition asks the government to review the process of multi-tiered providers responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the public dwellings in the community.
We can't have equality and reconciliation without also delivering basic service rights for the needs of First Nations peoples. In this case, failing to deliver these basic services in an effective and timely fashion is leaving vulnerable members of the community disadvantaged and living in Third World conditions. The young people at St Ursula's College and their teachers have taken this issue on very, very seriously and, without a doubt, Barton is an electorate where the people care for each other, our country and the future and wellbeing of First Nations people. I agree with the school community of St Ursula's College: the government needs to do something. I commend this petition to the House.