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Things “must change” on Mornington Island following Ministerial visit

Jun 14, 2021

Things “must change” on Mornington Island following Ministerial visit

Jun 14, 2021

 Mornington Island Mayor, Kyle Yanner, said he was given a great boost of confidence when he heard Acting Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, say ‘things must change ‘whilst on the Island during a visit yesterday with Indigenous Affairs Minister, Ken Wyatt.

Mornington Island has extreme rates of diabetes and malnutrition, which results in residents having a life expectancy nearly half that of the rest of Australia, and due to a serious shortage of housing residents also live in severely overcrowded houses.

“He didn’t say things might change, he said they must change, and I believe we are seeing the start of a new chapter for Mornington Island,” Mayor Yanner said.

“They came, listened and we were heard. I believe they are out there to help us now. They agreed to support and work with us. It’s great to have two genuine leaders on board from the Federal Government.”

 Market Gardens:

The Ministers were given a tour of the area for proposed community market gardens which haven’t been in use for decades since a ban was issued by the State Government in the 1990s. That ban has since been overturned, but the culture and know-how of running a market garden has been lost.

Traeger MP, Robbie Katter, said there was energy on the island to make a change and if market gardens could be funded and re-established on Mornington Island then it could be replicated as a pilot-scheme across the Gulf and Torres Straits First Australian communities.

“We had Elder Sewter telling the Acting Prime Minister how the market gardens used to be run and that the community needs to go back to using them,” he said.

 “The bones of the infrastructure are already there with fencing and a water supply in place. We also have the will of the local people and now the Acting PM has seen the situation for himself. We can turn this situation around.”

Overcrowding:

The Acting Prime Minister and Indigenous Affairs Minister were also shown firsthand the overcrowding in houses on the island.

 Mayor, Kyle Yanner, said it was an eye-opening experience for the Ministers.

“They can’t just keep reading the papers, they had to come and see it for themselves,” he said.

 “They met locals in their 20s and 30s still living with their parents, because they have nowhere else to go. This is how we have to live, but it’s not how we want to live.”

 Kennedy MP, Bob Katter was unable to attend the last-minute visit due to a prior commitment in Mareeba but thanked the Ministers for walking in the footsteps of Mornington Island residents.

Mayor Yanner and Mr Katter met with Minister Wyatt last month and will keep pressing for market garden funding.

“Now we need action, and the Ministers can be assured I will continue to keep banging on their doors in Canberra until we see a genuine result,” Mr Katter said.

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