Skip to main content

Review of the Water Report - Case Study Communities

Review of the
Water Report - Case Study Communities

The report is online

The 1994 Water Report
(and the Review of the Water Report) examined ten communities from around
Australia to demonstrate the complexity and diversity of circumstances
in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Each case study
documented the condition of water and sanitation services in that community
and highlighted specific areas of concern. The following is a brief introduction
to the communities.


Punmu is in the western
desert near Lake Dora in the central northern area of Western Australia.
It was established as a permanent camp at the Rawa site in 1981. People
are very mobile and they consider the traditional lands around them as
their home. The Martu people have been the custodians of rain-making sites
in the region. The estimated population in 1999 was 150 people (250 in


Coonana is also in
Western Australia, approximately 160km east of Kalgoorlie and 4 km south
of the Trans-Australia railway line. The people of Coonana were moved
there from Cundalee in 1985-6, following the purchase of the Coonana pastoral
lease in 1982. Incentives offered to the Wangki people as a trade-off
for moving to Coonana from Cundalee included pastoral enterprise, horticultural
enterprise, market gardens and a grassed oval. Lack of water resources
has severely hampered development at Coonana. In 1999 the population was
estimated at 250 (300 in 1994).


Yalata is a community
of Pitjantjatjara people situated at the top of the Great Australian Bight
in South Australia. In 1999, the population was estimated at 450 (400
Aboriginal). In 1994 it had a population of 400 people (350 Aboriginal
and 50 non-Aboriginal). Half of the community was under 25 years old.
The South Australian Government purchased the land, covering 4,560sq kilometres,
in 1952. Yalata is situated on a karst plain. There is a lack of surface
features and poor drainage.

Oak Valley/Maralinga

Oak Valley is an
Aboriginal community in the southern portion of the Great Victoria Desert
of South Australia, approximately 140 km south of Maralinga. The settlement
was originally classified as a series of outstations. Maralinga is about
one and a half hours by road on a reasonable bush track. The Aboriginal
inhabitants of Oak Valley are highly mobile. Oak Valley residents were
likely to spend considerable periods away from Oak Valley, none being
present all the year. The people emphasise traditional rather than contemporary
values. The population in 1999 was estimated at 90 (65 in 1994).


is an association of six family groups living 46-75 km north of Alice
Springs. At the time of the 1994 Water Report survey people were living
on unused stock routes although they would have preferred to live on other
land that was proposed for excision from surrounding pastoral leases.
There was a population of 115 people in 1999. A 1986 CLC survey indicated
a family population of 184 with an average of 38 people resident in the
communities. There were seasonal and other population variations.


Dareton is a small
town on the Murray River in New South Wales. The main group of Aboriginal
people lived on a small reserve just outside Dareton with another small
camp a few kilometres away. Dareton's population in 1994 was 900. Namatjira
Avenue and the reserve population were estimated at an average of 150-200
(250 in 1999). The community layout was not just in one location: 20%
of people lived in Dareton itself in State Housing Commission houses;
10-20% lived at Merrinee; and 60-70% lived at Namatjira Avenue and the
surrounding Reserve area about 3 km east of Dareton.


Tingha is a rural
village situated 70 km north-west of Guyra and 25 km south-east of Inverell
in NSW. It is located within the boundaries of Guyra Shire Council. Tingha
is an old tin mining town located on poor quality agricultural land, and
surrounded by grazing properties. The total population was about 850-1000
people, of whom approximately 25% (estimated 240 in 1994; 250 in 1999)
were Aboriginal people.


Doomadgee is about
119km south of the Gulf of Carpentaria and approximately 87km east of
the Queensland-Northern Territory border. The nearest major town is Mt
Isa, which is 480 km by road. Doomadgee land includes 30 km of the Nicholson
River. In 1999 the population was estimated at 1200 (922 in 1994).

Boigu Island (The Torres Strait)

This mud island is
only 4 km from Papua New Guinea (PNG). People have very little land available
for settlement and their foreshores are subject to tidal surge and inundation
by sea water. In 1999 the population of Boigu Island was 340 (330 in 1994).

Coconut Island (The Torres

Coconut Island is
1900 metres long and 300 metres wide and is located at the NW end of a
large reef flat in the central eastern group of the Torres Strait. The
village is 6-7 metres above sea level. The island is reasonably flat and
most of the island is between 5 and 7 metres above sea level, except on
the southern side where sand dunes rise to 12 metres. In 1999 the population
was 188 people. In 1994 the population was approximately 150 and there
were 30 houses.

updated 2 December 2001.