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Marshall aims to build 'stronger' relationship with APY communities

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Premier Steven Marshall says his trip to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands today will help build a “stronger more productive” relationship between Indigenous communities and the government.

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Marshall, who holds the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio, arrives in the APY lands this afternoon to talk to locals, service providers and community organisations in Indulkana, Ernabella (Pukatja) and Mimili.

Today’s visit is Marshall’s first to the APY lands since forming government in March and his ninth since being elected to Parliament in 2010.

Marshall described the visit as “the best way” to build a “stronger and more productive relationship” between Aboriginal South Australians and the Government.

He said he would be speaking to communities to reassure them that his government was committed to working with remote communities “to address the challenges they are facing and support them in developing future opportunities”.

APY Council general manager Richard King said he found it “wonderful” that Marshall was making a visit to the APY lands so early on in his term as Premier.

He said one of the issues the council would raise with Marshall was the high number of deaths communities had faced recently due to health-related problems.

“Unfortunately this year we’ve had a lot of deaths because of problems with health – we’ve had renal failure, diabetes is growing out of control, more and more people are having to spend time away from their communities” King said.

“We have a population of young people who are growing up and we have a lot of older people too so this is an issue that needs to be looked into.”

Marshall said the government had a responsibility to find “more practical and timely ways” to support Aboriginal communities in meeting their challenges.

“It is one of the reasons why as Premier I have taken responsibility for the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation portfolio and it’s a role I take very seriously,” he said.

But Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Kyam Maher has criticised the Marshall Government’s decision to not formally appoint an Aboriginal Affairs Minister, a ministerial position which he said dates back to the pre-Don Dunstan era.

He said last week a number of senior Aboriginal leaders in South Australia had questioned him about Marshall’s commitment to Aboriginal affairs, including on issues relating to the treaty process – which Marshall has ended – and remote Indigenous housing.

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