Joint media release: Delivering water to remote Northern Territory First Nations communities

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
The Hon Lauren Moss MLA, Northern Territory Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security

The Federal and Northern Territory Labor Governments are investing in two projects to give First Nations communities access to clean, reliable water.

Most Australians would be shocked to learn that tens of thousands of First Nations people in remote communities still don’t have access to healthy drinking water.

It harms people economically, because towns and families can’t get ahead if they can’t rely on the basics of life, and culturally it causes harm for people to see their river and waterways run dry.

That is why the Federal Government is investing $17.5 million with $9.1 million from the Northern Territory in two new projects to start to fix this problem as part of the Albanese Government’s $150 million fund to close the gap on First Nations water security.

In Yuendemu we’re together investing $15.3 million for three critical construction projects in the Central Desert community. The project includes a water service line replacement, equipping of two existing bores and a rising main replacement which will prevent leakage and provide increased water transfer capacity that can support new housing development.

In Milingimbi we’re together investing $11.4 million for three critical construction projects to improve access and reliability of water supply in the East Arnhem Land. Across three locations, the project includes upgrading and new bores which will improve access and reliability of Milingimbi’s water supply, unlock the opportunity for new housing development to reduce overcrowding and enable community development.

Construction will commence in the 2023 Northern Territory dry season and will be delivered closely with the Yuendumu and Milingimbi communities to ensure their views and priorities for their own communities are heard.

But these two projects are just the start. The Albanese Labor Government is investing $150 million in projects like this right around Australia – to make sure communities have access to clean water.

These are the first construction activities under this fund, and a clear demonstration of this government‘s efforts to Close the Gap on essential services and water infrastructure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“In a country like Australia, here are things that most of us take for granted. Like when we turn the tap on at home, safe drinking water will come out.

“But for more than 25,000 people in remote Australia, that isn’t the case. These Australians live in places without access to water that meets basic health guidelines. And another 600,000 people live in places without access to water that meets recognised standards – relying on water that’s murky, or contains  unsafe levels of minerals, heavy metals and chemicals.

“This level of deprivation is unacceptable. It makes Australians sick and it holds them back in life. Our government is committed to changing this.   

“I am thrilled to announce funding towards the first two projects funded through our $150 million fund to invest in critical water infrastructure projects in First Nations remote communities.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to Close the Gap on water security, and we cannot do it alone.

“That’s why our government is working closely with our state and territory partners and First Nations organisations and representatives across the nation to identify, plan and deliver water security projects.”  

Quotes attributable to Northern Territory Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security, Lauren Moss:

“Together with the Federal Government, the Territory Labor Government is investing in water infrastructure in remote communities through a program of projects that will positively impact those who need it most.

“These first two, shovel ready projects in Yuendemu and Milingimbi not only represent a Labor co-investment of $26.6million for remote communities, they demonstrate our enduring commitment towards improving the health outcomes and lives of remote Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

“I welcome this partnership with my Federal counterpart and Minister for Water Tanya Plibersek MP to work collaboratively with First Nations communities on improving water quality and enhancing water security in some of our most remote Territory communities.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour:

“I have always said that if we don’t have adequate infrastructure and essential services in our remote communities – they will not be able to grow and develop. It also leads to more people moving into urban areas to access services.

“I am proud to be a part of a Federal Government that recognises the importance of essential services in our remote communities, and is committed to improving them.”