5 April, 2023
After 15 years and a commitment of over $20 million, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) will be ceasing financial contributions to the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program (ACWSP or ‘the Program’) from 1 July 2023.
The NSWALC Council has made the decision after carefully considering whether the NSWALC Statutory Fund, which was provided as a compensation measure for the dispossession of our land, should continue to pay for essential services that other communities enjoy and should be provided by the NSW Government.
Every community has the right to safe and effective water and sewerage services, and this was not the case for many NSW Aboriginal communities prior to, and after, the introduction of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA). The Program was established 15 years ago to remediate the legacy issues created by past government failure to upgrade infrastructure, including water and sewerage infrastructure, on former reserves and missions before they were transferred to Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
NSWALC entered into a 25-year agreement with the NSW Government in 2008 for the operation, maintenance and monitoring of water supply and sewerage services in approximately 60 discrete Aboriginal communities across the state. As a result of the Program, these communities are now receiving water and sewerage services at a higher level than prior to the Program.
The partnership was formed after evidence showed that the drinking water and sewerage services in many discrete Aboriginal communities across NSW were poor, placing the health of these communities at risk.
Since that time, NSWALC has contributed substantial funds of over $20 million over the life of the Program for Service Delivery costs (routine operations and maintenance, backlog maintenance and emergency repairs).
The NSWALC Council would like to emphasise the importance of continued Government funding for the Program, and will continue to play an active role in providing in-kind support to ensure the ACWSP continues to provide safe and effective water and sewerage services on discrete Aboriginal communities.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss, please contact the NSWALC Program Implementation Unit on 02 9689 4444.