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EMA coordinates assistance for Kiwirrkura in Western Australia.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon. Dr. Brendan Nelson, MP Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence


06 Jun 2001 PARLSEC 186/01

EMA coordinates ASSISTANCE FOR KIWIRRKURA IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA An Australian Defence Force Chinook helicopter from Townsville will tomorrow commence airlifting urgently needed bulk fuel supplies from Kintore in the Northern Territory to the remote Kiwirrkura Aboriginal Community in Western Australia.

Coordinated by Emergency Management Australia (EMA), the task is expected to take about five days for the Chinook to complete the movement of 260 x 200lt drums of diesel fuel and six 200lt drums of avgas over the 150km between Kintore to Kiwirrkura.

The request from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) of Western Australia for Federal Government assistance to help with the recovery of the Kiwirrkura community to normal living conditions has been approved by Dr Brendan Nelson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. Dr Nelson has responsibility for EMA.

Dr Nelson said that the 170 residents at Kiwirrkura were initially evacuated to Alice Springs on 6 March this year when the community was inundated by flood waters which caused essential services to fail, putting their health at risk.

"That was three months ago and there is an urgent need to alleviate current hardship within the community by restoring facilities to a near normal level of operation in the shortest timeframe," Dr Nelson said. "This process can only begin by moving diesel fuel into Kiwirrkura to power-up generators and allow plant and equipment to become operational. The airstrip needs to made serviceable, essential services must be restored, and accommodation buildings require a lot of work."

Dr Nelson said that even when members of the community return to Kiwirrkura, access roads in the area could remain closed to traffic for some time.

"The flood-risk situation in Kiwirrkura is being examined by EMA and FESA in conjunction with other Commonwealth and State agencies, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the WA Aboriginal Affairs Department, to determine future mitigation strategies that

would better serve the long-term needs of remote Aboriginal communities," Dr Nelson said.

Kiwirrkura is one of the most remote communities in Australia - it is 1200km to the east of Port

Hedland in Western Australia, and 850km to the west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

Media Enquiries: Andrew Joyce, Dr Nelson’s Office - 02 6277 4433, 0407 100 521

Brian Flanagan, EMA - 0409 489344

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