Late afternoon across the Andamooka Opal Fields Photo: Gill Rowley,

The March meeting of the Andamooka Progress & Opal Miners Association (APOMA) gave rise to debate around grave concerns for the future sustainability of Andamooka and other towns and communities in the unincorporated areas.

The best way forward was resolved to be a whole of region approach for recognition of the true value of the South Australian outback by Government and to push for a fair share of government funding to better support regional governance by the Outback Communities Authority (OCA) and individual towns and communities.

“We believe both Federal and State governments have ignored the un-incorporated areas of South Australia by continually under funding the Outback Communities Authority, the responsible body formed to manage the communities of the region,” said Peter Allen, APOMA Chair.

“Revenue amounting to some billions of dollars is derived from mining, tourism and the pastoral industries in the outback. Communities of the un-incorporated areas form an integral part of outback South Australia and are in part responsible for the generation of substantial revenue to both State and Federal governments. It should be recognised that management of these communities is generally carried out by an over-stretched volunteer resource,” he said.

“Further, recognising that State and Federal appropriations total something in the region of 2.6 million dollars per annum to the Outback Communities Authority who manage a fixed population of approximately 4000 and a floating population of perhaps 25000 at any given time, it is not surprising that outback communities are floundering.”

In 2008, Andamooka and Iron Knob both voluntarily adopted a community contribution levy (rates) in a vain attempt to ease the burden on the OCA. Increasing operating costs and a lack of commitment from successive governments has seen this initiative become ineffective due to lack of adequate funding and support.

Andamooka is now back where it started with volunteers increasingly being made responsible for supplementary funding and managing their communities.

In contrast, the township of Orroroo with a population of 935 persons enjoys grant revenues of more than 3.2 million dollars. Then Peterborough with a population of 1416 persons enjoys grant revenue of 2.3 million dollars totalling some 5.5 million dollars.

In comparison Andamooka, the largest and most populated town under the OCA, which receives $175,000 government funding to supplement community contributions of $250,000 annually totalling $425,000 of which, the OCA retains around $105,000 leaving just $320,000 to manage and maintain the town inclusive of four basically paid part-time workers in the town office.

Fundamental community programs and developments require grant funding currently at around $55,000 for this financial year. On the basis of population ratio, that can hardly be considered fair or equitable.

Which-ever way the situation is viewed, the outback of South Australia is a homogenous entity and the wealth it generates must be adequately supported by governments to ensure it can continue to grow.

In recognition of its growth in tourism on a national and international level, surely that warrants greater government investment in their own interests.

We call on all of the towns and communities within the SA Outback to galvanise a joint approach towards gaining fair and equitable Government funding for our region that will not just provide for a barely sustainable future, but which will encourage growth and broader investment across the whole of the South Australian Outback.

For more information please contact:
Peter Allen, Chair, APOMA
(M): 0427 831 032

Gill Rowley, Andamooka Town Office
(M): 0427 508 079

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