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Hall N, Barbosa MC, Currie D, Dean AJ, Head B, Hill PS, Naylor S, Reid S, Selvey L, Willis J (2017)

Water, sanitation and hygiene in remote Indigenous Australian communities: a scan of priorities.

Brisbane: Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland

This discussion paper presents an overview of the current status of water, sanitation and hygiene services and challenges in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

The paper aims to emphasise the importance of the challenges requiring attention, as well as propose questions to stimulate discussion around how various stakeholders can respond to these challenges.

Key findings from the paper include:

  • contamination of drinking water remains a risk where monitoring regimes are not rigorous or consistent, and the use of bore water is problematic as it may contain naturally high levels of microbial and chemical contaminants
  • the status of sanitation has improved with increasing installation of centralised wastewater treatment replacing onsite septic tanks, however concerns remain regarding self-certification of wastewater installations in the NT, irregular wastewater output monitoring regimes, incompatible items flushed down toilets and high turnover of wastewater management staff in communities.
  • the status of hygiene and related health issues is an area of serious shortcomings - including issues around overcrowding, lack of knowledge of menstrual hygiene management and trachoma.

This paper was developed in response to Australia's research need around the actions required to ensure that Australia meets the targets of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 6 for 'access to water and sanitation for all'.

Abstract adapted from the University of Queensland

Hall NL, Huggett C, Iten L (2017)

Indigenous girls missing school during their periods: the state of hygiene in remote Australia.

The Conversation; (July 2017)

Retrieved 3 July 2017 from

Morgan D (2017)

Sexual and reproductive health education project for aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal; 25(3): 45


Ireland S (2015)

Paperbark and pinard: a cultural and historical exploration of female reproduction in one remote northern-Australian Aboriginal town.

Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Charles Darwin University: Darwin

Last updated: 20 September 2017
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