The New South Wales Aboriginal Lands Council has demanded immediate action to address asbestos contamination fears in an Aboriginal community on the states south coast
In a statement, the council said that reports of widespread asbestos scattered in Wallaga Lake Village are unacceptable.
An SBS TV Living Black report that aired on Monday showed asbestos in frontyards, underneath houses and children play areas.
Council president, Bev Manton said she raised her concerns to the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister Paul Lynch in a council meeting in Sydney.
“To see and hear of people – especially children – living in this level of contamination on a daily basis is disturbing,” NSWALC chairperson, Ms Manton told Minister Lynch.
“There’s talk about closing the gap and here’s a perfect example for Governments to take some immediate action and save lives.”
Representatives from the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and the NSW Department of Health visited Wallaga Lake Village on Tuesday to conduct initial asbestos tests.
A more comprehensive assessment is expected to be undertaken next week.
FEDERAL OPPOSITION CALLS FOR ACTION
The Federal Opposition\’s Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs, Marise Payne called for urgent action for Wallaga Lake Village after visiting the community on Tuesday at the invitation of Member for Bega, Andrew Constance.
“Most importantly, what we need to do now is address the issues that are of urgent concern to the community. So there are asbestos dumps, there is asbestos around some homes, there is a health concern around that, and the only way to protect people\’s health is to act urgently,” Ms Payne told SBS TV.
Ms Payne said State and Federal authorities should work together to assist the Wallaga Lake community.
“The last thing we need to see is buck-passing between State and Federal Government about what needs to be done in this community.”
The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said her Department will work with state and local authorities to enable a thorough assessment of the situation.