Trevor Adamson, APY Lands, Anne Prince, APC Environmental & Tony Davies, Davies Consulting Services

Anne: We are going to do things a little different.

Trevor: Firstly I would like to say thank to the Wongatha people for having us here in their community here and I just want to sing one of the songs translated from Waltzing Matilda.

I would like to pay tribute to past and present owners and also to the South Australian Department of Health who have paid our expenses to be here to share the information we have today about the waste management project on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY ) Lands. I can’t sing, I can’t dance but hopefully I can share a little bit about what we are doing- on the lands with you during this presentation.

For those of you who may not be familiar, the APY Lands is an area of 105,000 km2 located in far north-west of South Australia, in which 3,000 people are living in 13 main communities and about 30 homelands. The area is between 400 – 900 kms South West of Alice Springs and is significant because in 1981 the Land Rights Act gave these communities self-determination for their land. The APY is actually managed by its own Lands Council and the Council is made up of a chairperson from each community.

Waste Management on the APY lands has been neglected for over a decade, and is inappropriate and something needed to happen – the SA state government and Commonwealth have joined forces to fund a Regional Waste Management Priorities and Implementation Plan for the Lands. The objectives or the aims of the Waste Management Plan is to reduce waste on the lands, to increase the recovery or recycling of resources and to improve land management. The deliverables were very clearly articulated to us; government wanted realistic, practical, affordable recommendations with an action plan of how to improve things over a span of 5 years. The focus was to maximise training and employment opportunities on the lands and to create partnerships with other agencies and organizations.

We had to review how waste is collected and managed on the lands. Some particular waste streams were specified that needed attention including old motor vehicles, scrap steel, paper and cardboard, beverage containers, waste building materials, used oil, lead acid batteries and tyres.

We were also asked us to investigate the introduction of the deposit system that has operated in South Australia (SA) for the past 30 years where a 10c deposit is paid on all return of all cans and bottles of beer and soft drink and beer as a litter control measure. APY is part of SA yet for some reason for 30 years that deposit system has never been operating in the lands.

In addition to the collection of waste we also need to look at landfills and to develop a Landfill Guideline which considers siting, design, management, maintenance, closure and post closure management strategy. None of the landfills are licensed by the SA EPA and government are seeking guidance on budget and financials for both capital expenditure and prioritise a landfill improvement plan and ongoing operating costs. Basically, how do we get from where we are to where we need to be, how we are going to get there and what it’s going to cost.

In May 2007 I asked if I could do an initial scoping visit to the lands as I had never been to the lands and I wanted to know what I was getting into before I agreed to do it. It is the most stunning beautiful countryside. We went to the APY Executive in Alice Springs in August 2007 to seek approval to do a waste plan for their Lands. We then submitted a proposal and got the funding approved. Trevor Adamson is centre piece of our team. He can sing, dance and is our translator and guide and he is very good friend. Tony Davies, well known to many of the local indigenous people and has worked on the lands for 30 years, he is an engineer and has been responsible for installing water infrastructure through the lands. He is my water and landfill guru. My role is trying to facilitate improving the collection, recycling and separation of materials.

With my local government back ground I was thinking about how I’m going to collect the rubbish and Craig Steel from SA Health said to me “No, you have to get it out of the house. You have to get them to manage it in the house” So that’s where we are starting the project right back in the house trying to get rubbish in garbage bins in the kitchen rather than traditionally thinking about how I am to pick it up, where am I going to take it to and how am I going to get it there.

We did a lot of community engagement with the Municipal Service Officers (MSOs) who manage the community and the Essential Service Officers (ESOs) who manage power, water and sewerage, the schools, clinics, Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), the stores about what happens now and what their thoughts were on what they would like to see happen in the future. We talked to the chair people, we talked to the white fellas that run these places but I wanted to go and talk to the community and that’s what Trevor did. We held community BBQs in every community to provide an opportunity for Trevor to talk to the community. Trevor had a picture book that we went through about talked about what we are doing now and what we would like to do in the future. All of this is contained in a interim report with 40 recommendations. We now have the funding to precede to the next stage. Now Trevor is going to talk to you about what happens on the lands now.

Trevor: Following up I just want to say a few things about what happened in 1996. The Government gave the communities $1 million for trailers for the stores and the community and homeland people living in homeland trying to clean up rubbish, new trenches dug for rubbish and toilets (bio-solids) and wheelie bins for houses, the art centre, the school, clinic and public places in the communities were introduced. Then 10 years later all those trailers broke down and trucks were not working but wheelie bins were accepted because they were good but some have no wheels. Some communities were using the truck on community work but the trailer is better than using the truck because young people don’t ‘ding’ it. There are no fences around the dump, plastic is not really good for people’s health and a lot of rubbish is blown away from the rubbish dump. Later, government was looking at the waste oil and putting a collection area in every community and 30,000 litres of used oil has been removed out of the Lands. A new garbage truck was given to one community and some of those other communities are trying to tidy up the rubbish dump so they can put in separate areas cars, batteries, timber, tyres and metals rather than dumping it in one the rubbish hole and putting in a way so people are able to use it.

Anne: So in our report we recommended that some things can be done immediately and some things we need to see if they will work and we need to do trials on. We suggested that a car removal contract be let - about one car dies per day on the Lands and about 5,000 are now on the lands scattered in and around communities. Wheelie bin stands be provided in public areas and schools in all communities to stop the horses, the donkeys, the people and the dogs from knocking them over. Because if the bin gets knocked over no one wants to pick it back up and put it into the bin so we were going to try and stop the bins being knocked over in the first place.

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We want to do a waste and litter audit to find out how much rubbish is on the ground and how much rubbish and what sort of rubbish is in the bin so we have baseline data of what we have now so that we can compare it to what’s happening in the future. KSABC – the Keep South Australia Beautiful Council have done a fantastic job doing community clean-ups and that is a ongoing rolling program and they have separate funding for 3 years.

The other thing of course is education. The schools are the cornerstone and KESAB has a ‘waste wise’ program that they are using in the schools. Trevor has done all the translations for posters and stickers to tell everyone what we are doing and why things need to change. We are using the local radio and a locally written ‘rubbish song’ and interviews to provide updates about what is happening and announcements about when to put your rubbish out. We are also hoping to use local television for some advertisements.

In terms of the trials we are putting all these trails into different communities. We thought about putting all the trials into one community and then we decided that it was probably too much for one community to have. So we are spreading out the trials so every community has at least one trial and some communities may have more than one trial.

The first trial is to install house bins or to give one community bins for all their homes and to see how that works and to trial different sorts of bins to see if some bins are better than others. These bins will be emptied into the garbage bins which they already have. We will be installing bin stands, like we have in the public areas, by attaching these to the front fences of each house, so that the bins to do not get knocked over by animals or by people in an effort to try to reduce the amount of litter in the communities.

We are then going to introduce a monthly bulk waste or “big rubbish” collection as most of the people do not have any way of getting these big rubbish items to the tip and they are not picked up by the normal rubbish collection. This was a suggestion that came from the consultation we did with the health clinic staff - they would like to see the yards cleaned up on a regular basis and this is one way that we can do that.

Waste collection; we are looking at whether the trucks or purpose built trailers are the way to go. The truck we are going to use is the new one that has already been provided and we are buying two purpose built trailers so now instead of using box trailers which will maybe move 6 bins at a time we are looking at a low car trailer type that will move 18 bins at a time. The bins are put on the trailer using a ramp an then the whole bin and rubbish taken to the dump and emptied.

Dry goods to the stores come wrapped in heaps on plastic shrink wrap so to reduce that we are seeking to use fully enclosed secure reusable transport cages that can be used to transport goods in to the community and backload items out - reverse logistics back into Alice Springs. At the moment everything comes into the lands but nothing goes back out. The local transport company, ABC Transport, are willing to help us do some reverse logistics of items back out of these communities.

Currently, all of the cardboard from each store goes to the dump and is the main fuel for fires. So we are going to put in a cardboard baler to bale the cardboard and then take it back to Alice Springs and then to Adelaide for recycling. We are also introducing a deposit system in a couple of different communities and trialling different ways of doing it. In one location it will be through the school, in another using the CDEP people where a small depot will be opened and people can redeem the cans and bottles, receive a piece of paper with the amount of money that can be cashed in at the local store. Some of the proceeds will go to the individual who picks the rubbish up, some will go to the school and some will go to a sporting group. We are proposing different models to see which one we think is the most appropriate for the Lands. We will be using wool bales and also buying a purpose built trailer mounted baler to bale the cans and plastic items to reduce size for transport from the communities back to Adelaide.

We are looking at separating waste for re-use and recycling, waste metals, car batteries, timber, electronic waste, chemical pool containers; some of the communities have recently had pools installed and now we have a whole new waste stream which is the 20 litre drums of pool chemicals.

We are proposing two different trails for stripping of cars and white goods; one using CDEP and one using a family enterprise model whereby the proceeds of the value of the scrap or the value of the spare parts goes to the community or family that actually does the stripping of these materials.

We are currently getting memorandum of understandings signed off by all the stakeholders who will become the custodians of the equipment or who are required to assist us by completing surveys sheets to measure and monitor how the programs go. We are currently buying equipment and will then be implementing measuring, monitoring and evaluating over a 6 month period from June to November, 2009. We will be undertaking monthly field trips, both Tony and I separately and together just to keep things moving and to identify challenges and problems that may occur so we gain the knowledge and information of how things are working and if they are not working why and how they are not working. There has been a governance process put in place as to what the reporting mechanisms will be; there is a steering committees and all the funding agencies are involved with regular meetings of all the key stakeholders to report progress made to date.

This project is about trying to change behaviour and create cultural change rather than putting engineering type solutions in place. Our final report with go to government in March 2010 and that will identify the 5 year forward program of what money needs to be allocated for what tasks and priorities.

I certainly hope and I am sure that Trevor does as well that we can maybe report back on the progress that we have made at your next conference in Darwin in 2011.

The other project I am working on is also a landmark project - a pilot project on Warraber Island in Torres Strait which has a whole totally different waste stream, totally different challenges including a whole range of quarantine issues to deal with moving materials from one Island to another or from one Island back to the mainland. We are looking at putting a significant composting program on Island for all the organic waste – food, garden and cardboard. So it would great to come back and talk to you about both of those projects and our lessons and our experiences that we learned from these projects.

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Thank you for your attention.

Q. Anne, you mentioned that there was 30,000 litres of oil removed what was the source of that oil? Was it all from motor cars?

A. No, it was all from power stations. Recently a number of the eastern communities have just gone onto a central power source so the majority of that is on a centralized grid and the old generators are obsolete .

Q. Isn’t that the responsibility of the power company to remove that?

A. When you are that far from anywhere and no one is looking, who is going to know if it’s still there or not there? There is a whole range of inherent problems when no-one’s watching what is going on, and anything’s going on! So what we are trying to do is see what is actually happening and then put in programs to try to manage the waste streams that are there and eliminate them in the future.

Q. If the present scheme isn’t working there must be a lot of money there for someone to take those cans back to Adelaide?

A. The deposit system has never been introduced on the lands in 30 years and nobody in government can actually tell me why the APY lands were never part of the deposit system. The litter audit and the waste audit we do will give us some indication of the amount available and we know what the unit sales are through the stores. What we need to find out is how much of what goes in we can actually get back out though a voluntary collection program and that’s why we are looking at whether it should be the individual or the footy club or the school that are the beneficiaries of the funds. In different communities the communities have told us different things - some communities want it to go to them, some want it to go to the school and some communities want it to go to the footy club so we are working with whatever system the community want and where they think the money should go and the see how it works. They have said that’s what they want so we want to see if that really is what they want when it actually happens.

Q. I would like to know how you went with the community engagement side of things? Did you get a lot of interest in the communities like you have mentioned about doing BBQs and you used their own language?

A. We had a BBQ we get everyone to the BBQ and then we have a community meeting. So we feed them they all sit down and then Trevor was out the front talking to them, basically going through these slides and showing them and telling them what we want to do and asking what their thoughts were. Then at each community at the end we would then say to them these are the trials we want to do, which trial would you like in your community? That’s how we allocated trials to different communities so we are putting things in communities that they wanted - a number of communities all wanted the same things but pretty much they were happy to have different ones. This is how we have done it is that how other programs have worked or do you think this has been a different way of doing it to other projects Trevor?

Trevor – This is how we do other things as many people see all these people (consultants) coming in and don’t get an opportunity to talk to them so this is how I decided to do it so we get a lot of people from across the Pit Lands to come in and listen and talk about waste management talk about it.

Anne: Out of the 3000 inhabitants I think we spoke to about 600 people attended the BBQs so that was significant community engagement and consultation. We did the posters and everything was in translation so everything was in language first, and English second and much smaller font than language. The 2 posters that we did were put up everywhere so if people couldn’t come to the meeting they could read about it.

For more information

Anne Prince
APC - Aprince Consultings
PO Box 54, Terry Hills, NSW 2084
Ph: 02 9907 0994 Email: