More Town Camps Join legal push for housing repairs


A town camp in Alice Springs is following the lead of two other First Nation’s communities in pursuing legal avenues to get much needed repairs to their houses.

On Tuesday half the residents of Larapinta Valley notified the Northern Territory Department of Housing of around 160 repairs required.

Lawyer for the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service Katie Gordon says the timeframe for repairs can be erratic with some residents telling her they have been waiting for years.

Larapinta Valley town camp resident, Ms Sheridan McMasters said she waited up to a year to get a crack in her ceiling repaired.

“A crack in my kitchen ceiling was reported over a year ago, they finally patched it up but it now looks like it is coming back and water is leaking again,” she said.

“It seems to me that when I report housing problems nothing ever happens, they often come out and inspect but nothing happens”, she said.

In February, 70 residents of Santa Teresa applied to NTCAT seeking orders that the DOH attend to over 600 outstanding repair issues in that community.

ALRAR director, Daniel Kelly, is acting on behalf of the Santa Teresa tenants. He says the increasing number of communities turning to legal action is building a case for reform.

“These are not isolated cases. This is every remote community and every town camp in the Territory. These problems come from systemic issues, and there needs to be systemic solution. What this action by the town camp residents shows, is that pressure is starting to build on the Territory government.”

Papunya residents will have their claims heard by NTCAT for the first time on 29 March while Santa Teresa residents will have a further hearing in early April.



Image: Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights


Stephen Clarke

Stephen Clarke

NIRS Journalist