Legislative Council: Wednesday, July 03, 2019


Parliamentary Committees

Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee: APY Lands Visit

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:57): I move:

That the report of the committee on the key issues raised during its visit to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, be noted.

The report covers the trip that five members of the committee made to the APY lands between 7 and 9 May this year. I think it was the fourth time that I have had the privilege to visit the APY lands, and in fact the first time I went there was with the honourable Minister for Human Services and the now Deputy Premier, which was a while ago.

Over the three days the committee was there, it visited four communities: Pukatja, Pipalyatjara, Amata and Mimili, as well as the administrative centre of Umuwa. During this time, the committee met with community members and service providers to hear about the successes and obstacles that the communities face. These issues included housing concerns, feral animal control, child and adolescent problems, sexual behaviour, potential mining and exploration activities in the area, disability services, education and health services. The report outlines the key issues raised in each of the meetings the committee undertook.

There are many people to thank for the organisation of the trip, and I will come to that shortly. As most members of parliament recognise, when a parliamentary committee visits communities, whether they be in the broader spectrum of South Australia as a whole or particularly the communities that are so isolated, they are very grateful for the presence of members of parliament. This trip was no exception. We were shown a great deal of the aspects of life in the APY lands and we saw a great demonstration of the great passion for those communities, both by the Anangu themselves but also by the many non-Indigenous people who have worked in those areas, for so many of them for a very long period of time. I think the committee would agree with me in indicating that that added great value to our visit.

On 7 May, after a longer than expected flight due to very strong headwinds, we met with the APY Executive Board in Umuwa. We had quite an extensive visit, hosted by representatives of the South Australian Housing Authority in Pukatja. That visit included something of great interest to me and that was the installation by the housing authority of poly septic tanks to replace the previous concrete ones which have a very low life span in the APY lands.

I am someone who, unfortunately, spent too much of my life cleaning out septic tanks but it was a bit of an education for the rest of the committee who had little or no knowledge of septic tanks, and are probably quite pleased that they do not have any. However, that was a great demonstration of the way in which the Housing Authority is extending the life of the facilities that are very much needed in these communities where the sewerage facilities that we all enjoy and take for granted every day are not available.

We then returned to Umuwa and had a terrific two-hour session with officers of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, along with a number of other community members, and we covered a great many issues while we were there. On Wednesday 8 May, we flew to Pipalyatjara and we then spent some time with APY Executive officers and the mining company, Metals X, looking at the mineral deposits that potentially will be mined—mostly across the border in the Wingellina region of Western Australia, but quite largely dependent on some of the minerals in South Australia—and, more importantly, water, and some other minerals including limestone, but also the potential for transport through South Australia to the Stuart Highway.

We then flew to Amata and spent time in the disability independent living centre. It was a place that impressed us very much with the services provided to those members of the community who do not have the physically active life that many of us enjoy. On the Wednesday evening we also had an excellent meal catch-up with many of the people that we had met during the two days and we also had the opportunity for each individual member of the committee to discuss with all those people the manner of the work that they do on the APY lands. On Thursday 9 May, we visited the Mimili Anangu School and then we went to the Nganampa Health Council clinic in that same community.

A trip like that does not happen without the help of many people in organising it. Our executive officer, Dr Ashley Greenwood, who only came on to our committee's services in a full-time capacity a number of weeks before this trip was due to occur, did a great job in organising that with many people, including the APY Trade Training Centre, particularly Mark Connelly, who I know a number of members in this place know. We thank him for the food, hospitality and accommodation, and for the friendly smiling face that he has provided in the APY lands for many years. Certainly, in relation to the accommodation at the Trade Training Centre, the honourable Minister for Human Services would have been aware of the vast difference between that centre and the place that she and I and the now Deputy Premier stayed in, probably a decade and half ago. It is a terrific facility there.

We are also very grateful to the Regional Anangu Services Aboriginal Corporation (RASAC), particularly Mark Jackman and Arshaan Khan, for their assistance in facilitating our movement around the communities; to the APY executive, Tania King, who was a great help to Ashley Greenwood in organising the logistics; and to Chris Doon, who was the APY mining tenement officer who accompanied us on the visit to the Pipalyatjara and Wingellina areas and also right up to the top north-west corner of South Australia, the Claude Hills, where we saw some of the area that could potentially be mined in the future.

We are also very grateful to Jacob McKenzie, the traditional owner who came out with us on his country to discuss the mining possibilities, and to Max Maczurad from Metals X, who I think has spent 14 years living at Wingellina, alternating between Perth and Wingellina. His great knowledge about the potential for that mining project was very valuable.

We are very grateful to the people from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)—Bobbi Sawyer, the social worker and manager, and Andrew Groome, the clinical lead and also, I must say, a very valuable impromptu interpreter—but also to the many Malpas and elders who shared their stories with us. Yllana Kerrin and her colleagues at the APY housing authority were very helpful in showing us the work that they are doing.

We are also grateful to Meredith Clarke from the Department of Human Services disability independent living program; to Nadia Mills, the principal of Mimili Anangu School; to Thomas Hampton, the Anangu education leader who has returned to his community and is showing great leadership to the young people there; to Kim Gates from Nganampa Health, who organised the visit to the clinic in Mimili; and to Viv Hammond, who gave us a great demonstration of her experience working in the lands.

We also thank the various artists we were able to meet at Ernabella Arts, Mimili Maku Arts and Tjala Arts, which is, in other terms, the Amata Arts Centre. I commend the report to the council. It does cover a great deal of the issues, many of which relate to the isolated nature of the APY lands. It is a very long way from Adelaide, but it is an important part of South Australia. As I said, I commend the report to members and thank the council for the facility to bring in this report for people's information.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.