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ATSIC Army Project for Palm Island: joint statement.

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Media Release

ATSIC Army Project for Palm Island - Joint Statement


12 April 2002


A range of new houses and essential services will be provided for Palm Island’s Indigenous communities at an estimated cost of more than $7 million following a decision to extend the ATSIC Army Community Assistance Program (AACAP) to the island.

The decision to extend AACAP to the island was announced today by Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill, Health and Aging Minister Senator Kay Patterson, and the ATSIC Zone Commissioner for North Queensland Jenny Pryor.

Mr Ruddock and Commissioner Pryor said the decision followed consultations with community members and the Palm Island Aboriginal Council. Relevant State and Federal Government agencies have also been briefed on the project.

“We expect the Army to mobilise in April 2003 to Palm Island for about six months,” Mr Ruddock and Commissioner Pryor said.

“This project is expected to involve about 200 army personnel from Brisbane, Sydney and Townsville army bases and approximately 50 contractors,” they added.

The project will be managed by 19 Chief Engineer Works and the major work carried out by the 17 Construction Squadron with assistance from the 3 Combat Engineer Regiment, 10 Force Support Battalion and Land Command Health Services.

Initial scoping work had been completed, with a draft budget of $7.6 million. The project is planned to involve:

• the construction of more than 20 new or replacement three bedroom houses; • upgrade and repair work on the island’s water treatment plant; • repairs to the drainage and access road to Wallaby Point and Butler Bay; and • the provision of ablution facilities to the Youth Centre and Sports Field.

Mr Ruddock and Commissioner Pryor said a second round of community consultations, which will be conducted soon, would discuss a more detailed workscope and budget.

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“Previous and current rounds of AACAP have focussed on work in Northern Territory and Western Australian communities. The decision to fund such a major project on Palm Island is a clear indication of the worth and success of this program,” they said

“AACAP has provided a clear demonstration of how co-operation between ATSIC and other key agencies can improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” they added.

“Palm Island also was identified as presenting opportunities to link possible Army training activity with a preexisting community training and employment development initiative.”

Media Contacts: Minister’s Office: Jeremy Chitty 0418 971 042 Commissioner Pryor: Alistair Harris 0409 658 177



AACAP is established and administered under an MOU between ATSIC, the Army and the Department of Health & Ageing (DH&A).

Under the MOU a Steering Committee comprising MOU agency representatives is responsible forselecting and scoping AACAP projects.

The AACAP program is effectively an element of ATSIC’s National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS)environmental health capital works program.

The NAHS program will fund housing and infrastructure projects on a needs basis to about 200 communities at a value of more than $340m in the 2000/01 to 2003/04 financial years.

The AACAP projects are program managed by ATSIC’s contracted program managers for NAHS.

Army undertakes roles of project manager and (in most projects) a reasonable amount of the construction with its own labour.

The Steering Committee commenced scoping locations for AACAP project/s for 2003 late last year.

While prospective projects are drawn from assessments of priority environmental health needs undertaken for NAHS nationally, other factors such as Army capacity and distributional equity between States are also considered.

AACAP projects generally need to have substantial capital size to warrant Army mobilisation. Previous and current rounds of AACAP have focussed on NT and WA.

The AACAP Steering Committee agreed in December 2001 that consultations proceed with the Palm

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Island community and other stakeholders to establish the level of support and likely workscope for a Palm Island AACAP project.

Palm Island also was identified as presenting opportunities to link possible Army training activity with a pre-existing community training & employment development initiative.

ATSIC, the Army, Department of Health and Ageing and the Palm Island Aboriginal Council briefed the Palm Island Aboriginal Community on 6 March 2002 on the policy and operating arrangements for AACAP.

The following day the Palm Island Aboriginal Council agreed in principle to an AACAP project on Palm Island in 2003.

The ATSIC Zone Commissioner for North Queensland, Jenny Pryor, and ATSIC Regional Council Chairperson for North Queensland, Edward Smallwood, have both been consulted and support Palm Island for an AACAP project in 2003.

On 19 March, the AACAP Steering Committee endorsed Palm Island to be an AACAP project for 2003.

Final approval for the project will be subject to confirmation by the MOU partners of detailed workscope, community sign-off in a formal funding agreement and assessment by an appropriate funding delegate that Army’s proposed project management and delivery constitutes value for money.

ATSIC, Army and the Program Managers have briefed the relevant State and federal government agencies on the project and will now continue developing a proposed scope of works to be undertaken.

The workscope should be finalised and endorsed through the Steering Committee by May and a Grant Letter of Offer issued to Palm Island in June 2002.


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