The Federal Government has announced a commitment of $150 million over four years to support First Nations water infrastructure and provide safe and reliable water for remote and regional Indigenous communities through the National Water Grid Fund. This will be targeted at communities that currently do not have access to clean drinking water.

The $150 million is the main component of a total package of $424 million. We estimate that it will require a minimum investment of $2.2 billion to bring drinking water in line with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and are pleased to see initial steps towards improving water supplies for these communities.

WSAA has continued to engage with the Government since the release of our WSAA Closing the water for people and communities gap report in November 2022.

The joint announcement was made this morning by The Hon Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians along with other Ministers including The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water.

As part of the announcement Minister Plibersek said:

“In a country like Australia it is shocking that there are still communities who don’t have a clean and reliable source of drinking water. Many of these communities are remote, First Nations communities.”

“There are towns that are unable to run dialysis machines as there is not enough clean and safe water. There are communities where the heavy metals and minerals in the water are at such concentrations that the water cannot be consumed safely. We want to start to change that with this investment.”

WSAA will continue to engage with the Australian Government as it works with state and territory governments and key stakeholders to identify priority projects. As part of project development, engagement with impacted First Nations communities is required to ensure their views, aspirations and priorities for their own communities are known.

 

At the launch of our Report we heard from Jackie Mahoney and Pam Corbett, Members of the First Nations community at Alpurrurulam, about the struggle for good quality drinking water in Alpurrurulam. Read the full case study here.