No cops, no clinics


25103 Haasts Bluff OKThe withdrawal of police from several bush communities, including Haast Bluff (pictured), is causing the temporary closure of their health services, according to John Paterson, the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).
“The lack of a police presence is making is difficult for health services to comply with occupational health and safety laws,” he says in a media release.
“The closures leave the communities at considerable risk of adverse health and wellbeing outcomes as well as vulnerability to impacts from alcohol and family and community violence.
“It is unacceptable that remote community residents, particularly those with chronic conditions or sick children, should be forced to travel or relocate into Alice Springs and other centres to access essential services.”
Haasts Bluff is 227 km west of Alice Springs.
Says Mr Paterson: “We also call on the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments to work more closely together on improving the inadequate housing and infrastructure that is impacting on the ability of remote communities to function effectively.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We have left several phone messages for a person named on AMSANT releases for contact with media enquiries. We’ve had no response. The only time we managed to reach him we asked how many communities, apart from Haasts Bluff, are affected. He promised to make enquiries but hasn’t come back to us. We are now attempting to reach Mr Paterson direct and put to him questions from our readers and from us.]


  1. The way I see it, if people want to live on the land (as they have for thousands of years) then they should.
    I have never understood why the NT Government are responsible for setting up police, shops, schools and health centres in these locations.
    Essentially creating a tiny (white fella style) town at very high cost to the tax payer and very high safety risk staff .
    Why not focus on the regional towns and ensure they have the services needed and let the people who want to live out bush do so without the benefits of “city life” AS THEY ARE OUT BUSH.

  2. Good point James, except that the main reason Alice Springs exists is to service remote Australia.
    It would be cheaper if the 50,000 or so people just moved to Adelaide, including you.

  3. Th NT is 1.421 million km². Plenty of room for living outside of the five big towns and one city, plenty of room to never have to see a white man again.
    Perhaps it’s time the government stops wasting billions of taxpayers dollars on locations that given their way will still be living off hard working taxpayers a thousand years from now.
    If you want to live like people did a thousand years ago I am in full support and you should swap your benefits for what your ancestors had.
    If you want satellite tv, air con, schools, phones, doctors, police, a playstation and anything made of plastic or metal, move to somewhere its possible to get a job and earn it.
    Do not expect others to work and and pay taxes so you can “have your lifestyle choice”.
    I for one have worked all my life to earn what I have and would have a lot more if I was not having my taxes wasted on people who live where they can only only take and will never contribute.
    Seriously, what type of community need police to be able to open a clinic? Maybe we need a lot more jails and a lot fewer communities.

  4. Papunya is – what – 70 clicks away – from the community. I was completely unaware that all those services had been closed.

  5. Haasts Bluff is part of a privately owned rural fiefdom.
    Being a privately owned fiefdom responsibility to provide services rests with the corporate owner, in this case the Haasts Bluff Land Trust.
    The shareholders (aka Traditional Owners) of Haasts Bluff Land Trust with their private corporate ownership must accept that their shared ownership means it is their responsibility to provide their services.
    Australians are entitled to certain levels of support.
    Levels of support depends on population and levels of need.
    Private landowners like Haasts Bluff Land Trust first need service themselves, using their own resources.
    They may seek support for some services. Such support is assessed in terms of need, proportionally shared contributions.
    If Haasts Bluff Land Trust, as a private property owner, is not prepared to provide basic services itself, nor provide reasonable security of tenure and leases, is unlikely there should be much support, whether from private or public moneys.
    With clear security of tenure, and access, service providers determine levels of support they may then provide, as deemed appropriate to need and cost-benefit requirements.
    Can John Paterson and AMSANT explain the levels of support they seek with clear comparisons to equivalent services received in similar sized communities around Australia?
    Can the corporate owners of Haasts Bluff Land Trust, and their corporate realty agent, the Central Land Council, explain what they are doing to provide themselves these basic services ?
    Around Australia most small towns equivalent in size to Haasts Bluff private village, neither have nor need permanent police presences. Their police often several hours away.
    Indeed when we organised our move from Papunya to Kintore we knew our nearest police were several hours away.
    Are John Paterson and AMSANT implying an excessive level of crime is occurring in the privately owned closed corporate village of Haasts Bluff?
    Can John Paterson’s explain why lack of a police presence makes providing health services at Haasts Bluff fail to comply with occupational health and safety laws?

  6. Has anybody considered the possibility that the disruption of essential services in regional / remote communities and consequent shift of population from these places into Alice Springs / Tennant Creek / Katherine is the implementation of a deliberate but unspoken policy? The patterns are remarkably consistent.

  7. Alex Nelson Re: Posted December 1, 2018 at 12:48 pm
    Care to identify some remarkably consistent patterns ?
    Most easily to accept are possible various disruptions of services in regional / remote communities may be part of a deliberate policy to move a population.
    Many suspect governments make considerable effort to avoid providing details, which reinforces conspiracy theories.
    Frequently there are other reasons, like late submissions, essential details missing.
    Like most assumptions, to actually prove them requires far more detail, which requires more open governments.


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