From safe drinking water to critical phone and internet connections, many remote communities struggle to access things most Australians take for granted. Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is doing vital work to change this.
One reason for this inequality is the complex challenges involved in delivering solutions to communities that are hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest town.
And these communities — from the remote outback to the top end of Australia and the Torres Strait — all have different needs, which means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
To address this, EWB Australia works with remote communities to pilot programs and projects that will help First Nations people live and thrive on Country.
One such project involves working with the Nyaliga community in the Kimberley, Western Australia. EWB is developing a solution to allow community members to regularly test their water quality themselves rather than relying on intermittent government testing.
Another project aims to refurbish the grounds and outdoor learning spaces for the 100 children who attend one of Australia’s most remote schools.
An independent school in the Pilbara region of WA, Rawa Community School was established in 1983 with shipping containers and classrooms made from spinifex. Its two campuses are at Punmu, about 600 km inland from Port Hedland, and another 170 km further east at Kunawarritji.
These two communities were once forced off Country but have since returned, developing a multilingual school that integrates the state curriculum with traditional knowledge.
EWB will deliver pro bono engineering advice and design on both campuses.
“Our partnership with Rawa Community School will provide them with the engineering design services they need to ensure that these projects go ahead,” said Kim Axworthy, EWB’s Engineering On Country Manager
“The partnership will lead to the construction of essential infrastructure for a very remote school. This will ensure that their students have safe and fit-for-purpose facilities and buildings.”
Your help needed
But providing infrastructure and technology that delivers the right solutions to the right communities is costly and time consuming. This is why EWB Australia has launched its First Nations Giving Day appeal, which aims to raise $100,000 to deliver projects over the next 12 months.
As part of the campaign, on Giving Day — 30 November — each donation will be multiplied by four, meaning a donation of $20 becomes $80, or $500 becomes $2000.
“Wherever you are in Australia, wherever you walk, you’re walking on traditional lands,” said EWB Fundraising Specialist Craig Goddard. “But the things we enjoy, that we can take for granted, are not the same wherever we walk.
“EWB’s Giving Day seeks to raise funds for our tech and infrastructure work — and the promotion of First Nations engineering careers — with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for the coming year.”
To donate or take part in EWB’s Giving Day, click here.