Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Alice Springs town camps

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government is determined to start work on improving living standards for residents of the Alice Springs town camps.

I want to get on with the job of upgrading and building new houses so that women and children who live in the camps have a safe and healthy life.

Recent court action has meant disappointing delays in the implementation of the $138 million plan to transform the Alice Springs town camps including intensive support services to the individuals and families who live in the camps.

In a major breakthrough in July, 16 Alice Springs town camp housing associations and the Tangentyere Council agreed to a 40 year sub-lease agreement with the Australian Government, opening the way for major investment to transform the Alice Springs town camps.

Since then, court injunctions have prevented the Government from executing the 40-year subleases signed in July by the 16 housing associations and Tangentyere Council, pending the court hearing set down for 31 August and 1 September 2009.

My preference has always been an agreed outcome, but the Australian Government must look at all available options including possible compulsory acquisition.

The Government will extend the period for consultations and submissions on the possible acquisition of the Alice Springs town camps until 27 October 2009.

In the meantime, we will embark on an enhanced information campaign aimed at providing all town camp residents with further information on the effects of a possible compulsory acquisition of the camps.

This enhanced information campaign includes:

  • An additional notice of the possible acquisition delivered to all premises, including tin sheds and other places where people live, including outdoor mattresses, in all camps;
  • Advertisements in the Alice Springs media;
  • Convening a further meeting for residents to discuss the notice, as well as taking all possible steps to distribute the notice and inform residents of compulsory acquisition; and
  • The opportunity for further submissions and comments to be provided by email, phone, or in person through a Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) officer.

This information campaign builds on previous consultations including oral hearings, leaflet drops and community service announcements.

It responds to the Court’s interim finding that it is arguable that we did not adequately inform tenants of the effect of any compulsory acquisition.

Throughout this process I have repeatedly consulted with Tangentyere Council, housing associations and town camp residents. But if I have to do more to address the Court’s concerns, I will.

The Government is committed to implementing the transformation plan in Alice Springs, including the establishment of new and expanded services and accommodation facilities.

Living conditions in the town camps are appalling and I will not give up on the residents.