Patrick Tjungurrayi : Walk the Talk Health Ministers told

Posted: Thu, November 12, 2009

The Central Land Council says it is a national disgrace and an act of unconscionable cruelty that Patrick Tjungurrayi is unable to receive essential clinical care in Central Australia.

Patrick Tjungurrayi has been refused dialysis treatment in Alice Springs because he lives in Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia.

CLC Director David Ross says the NT, SA and WA Governments need to sort the issue out as a matter of urgency.

“For Aboriginal people, state borders are arbitrary, just lines drawn by somebody across their traditional lands. They certainly don’t align with Aboriginal cultural or linguistic boundaries or traditional Aboriginal land ownership,’ Mr Ross said.

“Bureaucracy is essentially handing down a death sentence because Patrick Tjungurrayi will not go to Perth, far from his family and country.

“For him, Perth is the death sentence,” he said. “Despite his enormous contribution through his art and his efforts on behalf of his people, he and his fellow Pintupi are among the most remote and disadvantaged people in Australia and have far less access to health care and other services than other Australians.

“There appeared to be plenty of political good will to overcome these state borders to ensure tri-state policing was implemented,” Mr Ross said.

“Obviously where there’s a will, there’s a way. An immediate solution must be found for this man and the others in a similar situation.

“We are aware of the difficulties and the costs but this is the price to be paid for the complete lack of foresight and planning by the Northern Territory Government on Indigenous health and education for decades,” he said.

The recently released Pathways to Community Control quotes both Commonwealth and Territory Ministers as endorsing community control and respecting cultural sensitivities.

“It’s time that Governments walk the talk,” Mr Ross said.

The Central Land Council is a Commonwealth statutory authority representing around 24,000 Aboriginal people in Central Australia. More than 15 different Aboriginal languages are spoken in its region which covers 750,000 square kilometers of the southern half of the Northern Territory .