Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Brough returns to Wadeye

Some basic requirements for a better future for local Indigenous people were outlined during a visit to Wadeye last weekend by Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough.

The visit was in response to a letter written by the local council last Friday which stated they were prepared to take responsibility for tackling some of their own problems.

"They told me that they wanted to take a constructive approach to resolving their problems and I wanted to show to them that I was prepared to sit down with them and discuss how the Australian Government could help," Mr Brough said.

"I met with the traditional owners of Wadeye, the Kardu Diminin clan, and clans from surrounding areas – the Parmbuk, Dumoo and Jongmin. All were saying that a lot of the conflict could be settled if some of the clans could return to their homeland to develop small but safe and viable townships.

"Earlier in the day I had inspected some of the very small homelands which helped me understand what they were asking. Most of them looked well cared for and in good shape but were cut off in the wet season.

"I wanted them to understand that I could only support the development of small satellite settlements where they were viable, and I think some of them can be, and they had access to a decent school. It was also important that the community guaranteed that these communities would be their permanent place of residence rather than returning to Wadeye in the wet season which only exacerbates overcrowding.

"The community must make sure their kids go to school, their houses are painted where necessary and that the community is cleaned up before I would assist in building further houses. I indicated I would not spend more Commonwealth money where houses are getting trashed. They understood this and accepted it.

"The Northern Territory must step up and ensure local roads are adequate and that the school has enough classrooms, desks and good teachers to cope with improving school attendance.

"These were positive discussions and we established a good understanding of each others’ position.

"I made a commitment that my department would begin to work with them and the Northern Territory Government to develop a plan of action to begin to move the people back to country subject to the conditions that I outlined."