Low cost solution for remote communities

A submission made by the Northern Territory Department of Housing and Local Government to the United Nations 1998 Dubai International Award for Best Practices has been awarded the status of 'good practice'.

The submission, 'Innovative Information Sharing between Remote Communities,' will be included on the 1998 Best Practices database. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) stated, "The valuable knowledge and experience you have gained, therefore, will be shared with the rest of the world."

Of the 450 submissions received 290 were identified as either 'best practice' or 'good practice'. The program was developed by Jo Morley, Community Development Officer in the Katherine region. It aimed to find a low cost solution to overcome the difficulties of sharing information among isolated Indigenous communities.

Because of the time, expense and other difficulties of arranging visits for Community Government Councillors to other communities, Jo hit on the idea of filming activities that might be readily applied in other communities.

One example showed how mud bricks and other locally available materials could be used to construct housing rather than going to the expense of transporting materials from elsewhere.

This has readily been picked up in other communities. The key to the program's success is that local people themselves present their examples in ways that are readily understood.

"It is a set of stories casually filmed to show what other communities are doing," Jo said. "By videoing examples of low cost solutions to problems, good ideas can be easily spread."

The technique is now set to be used for a wider best practice program. Jo is encouraging the retention of copies of the work to be kept for some years so that communities can have a record of 'where they have come from'.

For further information contact Mike Rennie, Director Local Government Policy and Planning, telephone (08) 8999 8476.