The Falling through the gaps report casts a light on the issue of access to safe, secure and reliable drinking water services in regional and remote South Australia. It also provides practical steps that can help bring real change, to ensure that communities in these areas can have this fundamental need met.
Reforms over the last 20-30 years have improved the security, reliability and relative affordability of water for most South Australians. However the challenges faced by regional and remote communities have not been adequately addressed, and many still do not have secure and reliable access to the most basic of water services. South Australia has an opportunity to lead the way in demonstrating how material improvements can be made for regional and remote communities.
The Falling through the gaps report was launched at SACOSS' Living Without the Basics Conference on Wednesday 19 May 2021. It was commissioned by SACOSS and undertaken by water policy consultants Aither.
In line with the report's findings and recommendations, SACOSS is calling for the government to:
- Undertake a state-wide stocktake of current water supply arrangements to townships and communities (including remote Indigenous communities). This stocktake should consider drinking water security of supply, quality, governance and service delivery arrangements and costs, and look at delivery from the source to the household.
- Develop a policy that outlines a basic level of safe and reliable water services for all South Australian towns and communities.
- Undertake water security planning in regional and remote communities.
- Conduct a public review investigating the merits of broadening the application of the Community Service Obligations (CSOs) to all water service providers.
The Falling through the gaps report was prepared for SACOSS by water policy consultants Aither, who were engaged by SACOSS to identify practical recommendations and actions to improve drinking water services for those living in regional and remote South Australia. Although its focus is South Australia, it also has broader relevance, particularly in the context of the Productivity Commission’s National Water Reform inquiry, to which SACOSS made a submission, and gave evidence in March this year. The Falling through the gaps report follows two publications SACOSS released last year: a Scoping Study on Water Issues in Remote Aboriginal Communities, and a discussion paper: Towards equitable access to clean water and sanitation for all South Australians.