Prime Minister visits Alice Springs
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today visited Alice Springs to see firsthand how the Federal Government’s $150 million Transformation Plan for the Northern Territory town is helping to improve lives for Indigenous people.
The Prime Minister officially opened a new $8.3 million transitional accommodation facility today which is part of the plan to transform areas of Alice Springs and the town camps so that they are safe, healthy places to live in.
The Aherlkeme Village will provide 75 supported accommodation places to help homeless Indigenous people make the move into public housing.
It complements the 150 bed Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park opened in February this year and other accommodation upgrades.
Aherlkeme Village, meaning ‘new light, new day’, will help break the cycle of homelessness and relieve the pressure of overcrowding in town camps.
The facility will also ensure that vulnerable people are given support and are equipped with the necessary skills to meet their long term housing needs.
The Prime Minister also visited the Hidden Valley town camp to see how a major housing and infrastructure program is helping local residents there.
The Government’s Transformation Plan is helping to remodel the town camps so that they are like any other suburb.
It is providing decent infrastructure such as roads, power, water, sewage and drainage, improved street lighting and better community services.
Altogether, the new accommodation facilities and houses will see an extra 500 beds available for residents and visitors to Alice Springs.
To date, 34 of the 85 planned new houses have been built in the town camps and a further 35 are underway.
In addition, 77 of 134 rebuilds or refurbishments of existing houses on the town camps have been completed, and 20 are underway.
These projects are also providing jobs, with more than 50 per cent Indigenous employment as part of the housing and infrastructure workforce.
There are also 100 places that offer young people training and the opportunity to take part in community works under the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP).
The Government is also supporting measures to help deal with other local issues such as the devastating effects alcohol abuse.
More than $24 million is being spent in key areas of alcohol rehabilitation, early childhood services, domestic violence, improved patrolling services and tenancy management in the town camps.
In recent months the Australian Government has also supported the Northern Territory Government to buyback a takeaway liquor licence from an Alice Springs outlet and is supporting negotiations to buy back further licenses.
The Government has also extended income management measures to Alice Springs, helping to protect children and vulnerable people by ensuring that money is available for the essentials of life such as food and clothing.
Making changes to entrenched disadvantage takes time and commitment.
The Gillard Government will continue to work with the Northern Territory Government and the local community to transform lives in Alice Springs.
We are making an unprecedented investment in closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage, which is beginning to change the lives of Indigenous people.
The Gillard Government is working with Indigenous people to support personal responsibility as the foundation for healthy, functional families and communities.
Closing the gap requires a genuine partnership with Indigenous Australians at all levels. The Government is committed to a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.