By ERWIN CHLANDA
The NT Government will soon call tenders for an “appropriate organisation” to carry out an independent review of the Territory’s 43 town camps, Housing Minister Bess Price announced this morning.
She says “lease arrangements, infrastructure assessment, service delivery, housing, legislation, challenges, opportunities specific to each town camp and capacity for local organisations or companies to be engaged in the economy” will be part of that review.
“A comprehensive review of this type has never been undertaken before,” says Ms Price. It will be completed in six months.
Asked at a media conference about the convoluted system of carrying out repairs reported by the Alice Springs News Online, Ms Price said the communities “do have these issues and I make sure my people deliver whatever repairs and maintenance need to be carried out.
“I work closely with the service providers and we make sure we talk to each-other and that is what has been missing.”
Is self-help an issue?
Says Ms Price: “The MacDonnell Regional Council has done very well with the employment of Aboriginal fellows. They are so glad to do the repairs and maintenance on their houses in their communities.”
Is alcohol management going to be part of the review?
“The review will be up to an independent body that will probably look at issues of alcoholism. I am not a person to make comment on that. Hopefully we will make sure that we can address issues that people are raising.”
Will she instruct the reviewers to examine issues of alcohol management?
“I will be able to come up with the questions they will ask and that will be done in due course.”
Why is an external review needed? Could her department not identify the issues?
“A review like this has been a long time coming,” replied Ms Price. It will dovetail with the “review by KPMG into housing in the NT”.
Ms Price’s announcement, which media were told would be “on the future of Northern Territory town camps” came just as Tangentyere Council CEO Walter Shaw and members of the Tangentyere Executive were appearing before the Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into Housing Repairs and Maintenance, being held at Parliament House in Darwin.
Mr Shaw’s submission to the PAC was to be about longstanding issues around the failure of public housing management on Alice Springs town camps, according to a media release.
Ms Price said her government would “consider all recommendations”, from the PAC inquiry as well as her announced review.
She said she wanted to make sure Aboriginal people are “treated like human beings” but she rejected suggestions they were living in Third World conditions: “It’s not a Third World country. We are the richest people here. It’s not like we’re living in Africa. We have everything we need to look after ourselves. You can see the results when you go out to the MacDonnell Council’s region.”
The people there “would be so pleased to tell exactly what they have done and what they have achieved”.
PHOTO: Housing Minister Bess Price at Little Sisters’ camp with Baden Williams this morning.
By ERWIN CHLANDA