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Don’t ignore remote towns over bad water, says Congress

Tony Barrass -

Remote Aboriginal communities are facing a water crisis and Australian governments need to act urgently, according to the National Congress of Australia's First People.

The Congress call follows reports on the ABC that at least three remote communities in the Northern Territory â€" Laramba, Wilora and Willowra â€" are drinking water contaminated with high concentrations of uranium.

High levels of nitrate have also reportedly been found in the drinking water of remote WA communities and towns.

"It is shocking and appalling that some remote Aboriginal communities still do not have access to safe drinking water, " Congress co-chair Rod Little said.

"There is not enough care and compassion for the lives of Aboriginal peoples in remote communities. It should not be the case that people in remote communities are out of sight, out of mind.

"Aboriginal people in remote communities represent an important part of our country's heritage and it is highly disappointing that their basic human rights have been ignored in this way."

Co-chair Jackie Huggins said local, state, territory and federal governments needed to take urgent action.

"The problem of unsafe drinking water in remote Aboriginal communities, like so many other issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, has gone unaddressed for far too long," she said.

"National Congress calls on governments to take urgent action to address this crisis in collaboration with local community-controlled organisations and land councils."

Wendy Caccetta

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