Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Health Situation in Wilcannia

Download PDFDownload PDF


(Statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator 3.L. Cavanagh)

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, denied today that there had been an outbreak of gastro-enteritis among Aboriginal families living at Uilcannia, N.S.U.

The Minister said that although outbreaks of gastro-enteritis uere likely to occur at this time of the year, there uere no indications that this had happened at Uilcannia. ,

Although five Aboriginal children had been admitted to Broken Hill Hospital last ueek suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, pathological tests shoued they uere suffering from measles. One child uas later discharged. Another child, admitted earlier shouing the same symptoms, had died of pneumonia.

Senator Cavanagh said bad living conditions and resultant poor health of Aboriginals at Uilcannia had been the subject of much concern to his Department and the N.S.U. Directorate of Aboriginal Uelfare for some time.

Follouing floods earlier this year, people living on the Reserve at Uilcannia had moved across the river to the mallee area thus straining the already poor facilities there.

There uere seven toilets in the area and five uater taps. Under Australian Government grants to the States, the N.S.U. Directorate had authorised the Uilcannia Council to instal four additional toilets and 20 garbage cans to keep the area cleared of rubbish. This uork uas being carried out at the moment. The Australian Government uas also paying for tuo neu portable ablution blocks uhich should be in use by the end of the month.

In addition, the N.S.U. Health Commission uas helping to establish a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the people.

Senator Cavanagh said it uas estimated that betueen 50 and 60 houses uould be required to accommodate all the Aboriginal families in the area.

To date six houses had been built through the State program and funds had been made available to purchase or construct 14 more. It uas unlikely houever that the ready availability of further funds uould do much to remedy the situation because of the difficulty in obtaining qualified tradesmen.

The Minister said officers of his Department had made a number of visits to the area to encourage the Aboriginal community to establish an Aboriginal Housing Society, but until May this year no request for funds had been received.

A Housing Society (Bakindji Ltd.) uas eventually formed through an Australian Government grant of $6500 and an architect from the Aboriginal Housing Panel uas attached to the Society to assist in the preparation of suitable plans. This did not prove successful although some attempt uas made to stabilise the riverbank site for building purposes.


W— — 5 L— ■>'

- 2 -

The architect had since been dismissed by the Society.

1 The N.S.U. Directorate of Aboriginal Welfare που intended to retain an architect and other resource personnel to reassess the situation and offer the Housing Society any assistance it may require. Senator Cavanagh said he had arranged for an officer of his Department to accompany this team to Uilcannia.

‘ Senator Cavanagh added that the plight of the people of Uilcannia uas not going unnoticed by the Government uhich uas doing its best to alleviate their hardship. It uould continue to give support and help uherever needed and placed great hope on the success of the community's housing plans uhich it sau as the basic foundations on uhich general living standards and better health of the people could be achieved.

CANBERRA, A.C.T. 3 December 1974