Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Supporting Business and Employment Opportunities for Indigenous people in Central Australia

Federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today announced two initiatives to support business and employment opportunities for Indigenous people in Central Australia.

The first initiative looks at innovative ways to deal with the feral camel problem in Central Australia while building economic opportunity.

“Camels presently pose challenges to traditional land owners and pastoralists in the region, causing extensive damage to the environment and to infrastructure on farms and in communities,” Mr Brough said.

“This introduced pest exists in populations of around 600,000 – a startling figure that doubles every 10 years.

“The Howard Government is exploring avenues for using local resources and skills to create employment for Indigenous people where they live, wherever economically feasible.

“The Howard Government will commission a study to look at the potential economic benefits and employment opportunities for Indigenous communities from culling feral camels. Up to $500,000 will be made available from the Aboriginals Benefit Account to kick start initiatives flowing from the study.

“If the opportunities look promising, business planning will follow. One option to be explored is the use of a mobile abattoir to produce camel meat for human consumption, both locally in Central Australia and elsewhere in the country.

“There may also be potential for expanding existing programs which employ Indigenous community members as rangers in culling activities, thereby helping to protect environmentally or culturally sensitive sites.

“The results of the study will be made available to communities in the south-west region of the Northern Territory, including Kaltukatjara (Docker River), Imanpa and Mutitjulu, as well as to the Central Land Council.

“This is a great opportunity to not only help create employment for Indigenous Australians in this region, but at the same time address an environmental problem that will continue to worsen if we don’t act now,” Mr Brough said.

The second initiative involves building six houses for Indigenous people from the Mutitjulu community who obtain employment at the nearby Yulara resort or the Nyangatjatjara College.

It is planned to develop the houses near the College site in Yulara, subject to successful negotiations with the land owner.

“This housing development will support Indigenous people seeking to achieve economic independence through employment,” Mr Brough said.

“The proposed development provides ready access for the Indigenous workers to both jobs and a wider range of services.

“Its location also recognises the current infrastructure and environmental constraints on further residential development within the current Mutitjulu community, which lies within the boundaries of the Kata Tjuta National Park.

“This is a major step forward for Indigenous people in Mutitjulu and forms part of our ongoing efforts to secure a better future for them and their children. We need to plan to ensure a sustainable Mutitjulu community into the future, sensitive also to protecting the interests of the national park.

“These initiatives provide further demonstration of the Howard Government’s commitment to the economic progress of Indigenous people – both through development of businesses based on traditional lands and employment within the mainstream economy,” Mr Brough said.