An open letter to the Hon Andrew Leigh

Dear Andrew Leigh,

I am writing as a constituent of your electorate asking you to act on the emergency situation in several communities in Arnhem Land, NT that have been affected by Cyclone Lam in the past week, including Galiwin’ku, Milingimbi, Gapuwiyak and Ramingining. [Not on original email, but edited to add: Mapurru outstation].

Because of scant news reportage on this issue, I have been relying on Facebook for updates, and the situation is dire. Galiwin’ku, where I lived last year, has been without power for several days. Sewerage is still a problem in the community. In a place where overcrowding is already a problem, many people have lost their homes and are still in emergency shelter with no place to go to.

The town is relying on volunteers to fly in at their own expense with chainsaws in an attempt to clean up some of the damage.

In a place where many are on forced quarantined social security income, EFTPOS is required to access money, so once the shop opened up again, these people were still unable to access their money because the phone lines were disconnected. I’m not sure if this is still an issue. People who are disempowered even when they’re not dealing with widespread destruction are going through a really hard time.

Despite reports from the ABC that the government would be providing relief payments of up to $1245 per family, such payments have been slow in arriving.

Crikey and the NT News have both published calls to bring in the army. The ADF has already been helping give emergency relief in Queensland following the widely publicised Cyclone Marcia. The federal government was happy to send the army to these areas for the Northern Territory “Emergency Response”. They should just as quick to respond now.

Please use your influence to make this happen.

Kind regards,

Emmeline Tyler

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