Imagine living in a place where the arrival of
the wet season is likely to mean you'll have to pack up and move
house due to flooding.
This is the reality for most of the residents
of the tiny community of Beswick, 120 kilometres south-west of Katherine.
is located next to the Waterhouse River which flows into the mighty
Roper, and almost every year the river rises to a level which forces
residents to evacuate to higher ground.
But this week, 13 new houses
have been officially opened, only 500 metres away from the current
community, but on higher ground above the floodline.
And for the families
who have been chosen to live in these houses, it's a brand new start.
year old Pamela Weston has lived in Beswick her whole life.
living next to the Billabong, the first house that usually gets
flooded when it rains," says Pamela.
"We sometime get no
warning, we usually just see the floods next to the doorhouses, so
we always be called out by the emergency to get our stuff out, our
furnitures out from the houses to go to the top camp.
it's too late, we just leave it and go out without our furniture," she
Pamela says it's very hard to leave her belongings
behind, and after spending money on furniture it can be heartbreaking
to see it affected by flooding.
She says she felt so excited when
she found out she was going to move to a house where she wouldn't
have to move even during 'big wets' but is concerned about those
who will still be living in the flood zone.
"I felt a bit sad
for those people who are still there with their houses during the
flood you know, it's going to be real hard for them sometime.
at it this year it's maybe going to be flooded again, we need some
more houses for this year, or next year, or maybe the future," says
Eric Sandy is also getting set to move to a new
house, where there will be enough room for his whole family.
the reaction of his kids which captures how the family feels; "They
feel great, they want to move, they keep asking me what time are
we going to move into the new home?".
Michael Burto is the regional
chair of ATSIC, and he's aware these 13 new houses won't solve all
of the community's problems, but says it's a good start.
existing housing apart from these 13 houses are prone to flood," he
"Some of the houses we think may be able to
be relocated to this area so we'd like to see that as well."
Burto can see a day when the entire community may be relocated.
understanding is I think that's what the community would like, you
know they are very tired of living in an area that's prone to flood," he
Mike Davies is the CEO of the regional council covering
eight communities including Beswick, and hopes this project will
have wider implications for the entire community.
to get people to think about what families are about and get back
to those basics of Mum and Dad raising children," he says.
environment of houses which are overcrowded usually means that there
is a high incidence of scabies, ear infections, eye infections and
it's hoped that the houses will have a significant change in those
"We'd like to think that all these things regarding
the living conditions, the attitudes, the sentiments being expressed
by people will lead them to think about different lifestyles, better
attitudes towards themselves."