Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation is calling out the behaviour of the Barkly Regional Council (BRC) for the eviction of the Corporation from the Sport and Recreation Centre.
The town’s sole gym was built by Anyinginyi, maintained and operated for two decades on Purkiss Reserve.
Anyinginyi Board Chairperson Ross Williams said the actions of Council are a repudiation of the Barkly Regional Deal’s intent to work together, co-operatively in the interests of the community.
“In good faith, Anyinginyi Health wrote to BRC in September proposing to sell the sport and recreation building on Purkiss Reserve including the gym equipment to Council at a significant discount to its value,” said Mr Williams.
“Anyinginyi made the decision to close the gym following a strategic review.
“The closure allows us to refocus our efforts and resources on primary health care and the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
“For many years, Anyinginyi was the only provider of sport and recreation services in Tennant Creek.
“In recent years that changed, in part because of the Regional Deal’s initiatives to increase community sport options.
“As such, Anyinginyi approached BRC and the NT Government to work together in the spirit of the Regional Deal and to reach an outcome that would benefit the community.
“Despite this, our organisation, and by extension, the Aboriginal community, have been treated with contempt by BRC through this process.”
Mr Williams said the Council asserted ownership of the building because it was located on land that was granted to it by the NT Government and neither BRC nor the NT Government could locate an exchange agreement relating to the building.
He says BRC declined assistance from the Northern Territory Government in relation to how compensation for the building could be made.
“Instead, Barkly Regional Council, through its CEO, served on Anyinginyi an eviction notice on Monday 13 December, despite no lease existing and our continuous possession and investment in the building for the last 20 years.
“Anyinginyi’s dispossession without compensation is a loss for our members, the Aboriginal people of the Barkly region,” he said.
“The funding Anyinginyi received to build and upgrade the facility was provided for the advancement of Aboriginal people such as through the Aboriginal Benefit Account.
“Most of the users of the gym are non-Indigenous members of our community.
“While we have no issue with non-Indigenous community members benefitting from the facility, it is important to note that this significant windfall to Council, flowing from our dispossession, will mostly benefit the non-Indigenous community at the expense of our organisation and the Aboriginal community we represent.
“Mr Williams said Anyinginyi’s dispossession ignores the role the Corporation has played for 20 years developing and delivering sport and recreation services in Tennant Creek when no other organisations were here to provide them.
“Our dispossession is the result of prior Government’s poor record keeping,” he said.
“Our dispossession is symbolic of yet another form of colonisation – a more insidious form, where structures in place to improve the lives of Aboriginal people are ultimately subverted. Where an organisation like Anyinginyi is unconscionably led to invest its resources into something that is taken away without compensation.
“The outcome is manifestly unfair, the actions of Barkly Regional Council are contrary to the spirit of the Barkly Regional Deal and working together for the community.”