Remote Indigenous communities in Central Australia are likely to remain isolated and subject to frequent road closures unless urgent funding is received to reinstate flood damaged roads, Central Desert Regional Councillors were advised at a recent Council meeting.
The Council manages over 1,700km of roads within the Central Desert Region including roads that provide the primary access to remote Indigenous communities. These roads were badly affected by the December 2016 and January 2017 rain event.
"The weather event over the Christmas period was our second natural disaster in three years" Cathryn Hutton advised. "The damage to our road network was severe with many roads being completely impassable for weeks following the rain."
"Opening works have been completed to all of our major roads this has allowed limited access to all communities. Unfortunately any major reinstatement of these roads will be dependent on disaster recovery funding."
The repair bill for the whole network will be approximately $57 million and unlikely that the remote Indigenous communities serviced by the Council will be able to afford these works.
The Central Desert Regional Council area services some of most remote and disadvantaged communities in Australia. "Access to our homes and communities is a basic human right," President Adrian Dixon stated. "We hope that the federal and territory governments will help us to rebuild our roads so we can travel safely and get basic supplies."
The Council has already made an application to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). The funding is a joint funding initiative from the federal and territory governments.
President Dixon said the damage was severe and would take time to repair even with immediate funding. "We have already spend over $550K just getting the roads open" he reported. "We are urgently seeking the support of both levels of government to approve our NDRRA application so we can get them useable again."