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CURRENT CASE: Water Rights for Remote First Nations Peoples

Families from Laramba are taking on the NT Government for uranium-contaminated drinking water in their homes left untreated for a decade and appalling rental housing conditions

High levels of uranium in drinking water are toxic. It can have significant health impacts on people who have no other choice but to drink it  including inflammation and chronic kidney damage as has been documented by the World Health Organisation. According to NT Government-owned company, Power and Water, the level of uranium in Larmaba is 2.5 times the maximum safe level. The Government has known about the unsafe levels of uranium for almost a decade and not taken action.

Renters in Laramba have followed in the footsteps of the Santa Teresa community and lodged their case about appalling housing conditions and unsafe drinking water with NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. If successful, their case could provide greater protection for standards of drinking water for other remote communities across the NT. 

Uranium is naturally occurring throughout large parts of the NT and can end up in water supplies through bores, but this water can be treated easily with a simple reverse osmosis system. Renters are asking that this system be installed for at least one tap in the kitchens of rental properties so they can have safe water to drink and cook with. 

The NT Government has chosen not to address the uranium or install these life saving taps, and people from 22 homes in Laramba have had enough. 

Left with no other choice, residents of Laramba are hoping to hold the Government accountable in court with the backing of their pro bono lawyers at Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights (ALRAR) and the financial support of the Grata Community.

Remote housing conditions have been a politically intractable issue for decades. The legal challenge brought by residents of Santa Teresa has already set a historical precedent and secured legal protection for remote communities that weren’t recognised before. People from Laramba now have the chance to apply the win secured by Santa Teresa and to set safe water standards for people across the NT.

These brave First Nations people might just break the stalemate and force the NT Government to treat remote communities with dignity and respect. 

It’s an important fight, and we’ve got to back them in. If you would like to donate to support the Laramba case you can do so here.

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