KRISTINA BÅTNES HESTDAHL
Indigenous communities across Queensland will benefit from a $120 million boost over four years to improve water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure.
Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mark Furner recently announced the critical infrastructure upgrade and said funding is vital for the health of the communities.
“The program is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities have infrastructure to improve living conditions and provide a sustainable future,” Mr Furner said.
“This funding will be tailored to each community, supporting the infrastructure they need now and into the future, helping to close the gap on disadvantage.”
Senior research fellow at Griffith University Dr Cara Beal said the funding is important to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but that its success depends on how it’s managed.
“If it’s invested properly, it will be very important,” Dr Beal said.
“The communities are facing many challenges, so I’m sure this investment will be welcomed.”
According to Dr Beal, some of the biggest challenges include ageing infrastructure, lack of skilled technicians, remote locations, infrequent maintenance and repair schedules because of the volume of work and lack of resources.
There are also low levels of technical knowledge within the communities, and the high water demand leads to pressure on pump and pipe capacity for both water and wastewater systems, she said.
“For solid waste management, the challenges usually include a lack of infrastructure, governance or existing systems to collect, transfer, store or dispose of solid waste,” Dr Beal said.
Whether or not the investment is enough to do what needs to be done depends on how the money’s being used, according to Dr Beal.
“But any funding in this area is critically needed, so hopefully this will be a step in the right direction to address some of these challenges.”