Mutitjulu pool opening celebrates secure funding future

Thursday, 26 September, 2013

The Central Land Council congratulates the traditional owners of Mutitjulu on winning their long struggle for a remote community pool with a difference: secure operational funding.

The community near Uluru celebrated the pool opening on Tuesday, 24 September at 11 am with a ceremony combining inma (traditional song and dance) with exuberant acrobatics by local youth, the Tjitji Ninja, and the desert sounds of the Tjintu Band.

The traditional owners decided in 2006 to put a substantial amount of the rent money they receive every year from the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park towards the Mutitjulu Tjurpinytjaku Centre.

They have worked patiently with the CLC’s Community Development Unit to make this project happen in a way that respects and protects the surrounding world heritage environment.

CLC Director David Ross applauded the dedication of the community.

“They have demonstrated their unwavering commitment by saving up $1.5 million of their own money to operate the pool until 2017. At a time when other remote community pools are closing because governments fail to fund them, Mutitjulu have an experienced professional organisation managing the pool in consultation with a community committee.”

Ross said CASA Leisure will employ and train local staff and collaborate with local schools to implement a ‘yes school - yes pool’ policy.

“We strongly encourage governments to support remote community pools and similar projects that provide recreational outlets for Aboriginal kids over the long hot summer months, and also for the health, education, employment and social benefits they are known to bring to remote communities,” he said.

An Aboriginals Benefit Account grant of $3 million and $100,000 from the traditional owners’ rent money funded the construction of the pool.

Ross is calling on governments to share the running costs of the pool with traditional owners in the future. “We hope that once governments see how well the pool is working they will chuck in, too, so that Mutitjulu can get on with doing other great projects with their rent money.”

Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) Projects project-managed the construction and design of the pool using the latest energy and water-efficiency technologies, in line with a stringent environmental impact assessment.

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Joint Management and Parks Australia gave permission for the project in 2010 - once they were satisfied that there was sufficient power and water, it would not damage the sensitive desert environment and would be well managed into the future.

“It’s taken this long because we’ve been meticulous in how we’ve worked with traditional owners, Parks Australia and governments,” said Ross. “It’s been worthwhile because it meant we have strong buy-in from everyone involved and that’s the key to the pool’s sustainability.”

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