Kalka Community is located in the far northwest of South Australia, just a few kilometres from Surveyor General’s Corner where Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory meet. Kalka is about 700 kms by road or 2 hours by plane from Alice Springs.
Kalka Community is the administrative and residential centre for Pitjantjatjara Homelands Council. PHC is an incorporated Aboriginal organisation that exists to further the social, economic, political and cultural interests of its members. PHC was born out of the Aboriginal homelands movement of the 1970s when Anangu left the missions and government settlements to the east and west and returned to their traditional country. Many Anangu had been brought into or were attracted into these settlements during the 1950s and 1960s when the Australian Government ran the Maralinga atomic bomb tests and Woomera rocket tests. Kalka was originally planned as a resource centre for surrounding homelands but by the early 1990s it had developed into a small Aboriginal community with the full range of housing, infrastructure and service needs.
Kalka Community is nestled beside the Tomkinson Range in a picturesque location overlooking savannah and nearby hills. Summer temperatures (between December and February) can be quite hot but the rest of the year is generally mild to warm during the day. Summer rains usually fill several waterholes in the region that are used for swimming.
The population of Kalka in 2004 is 150 with regular fluctuations up to 200 Anangu. A small non-Anangu population of community and nursing staff also resides at Kalka. The homeland areas, covering approximately 4,000 square kilometres, continue to be of central importance culturally as well as being a resource for tourism, mining and other development. There are a number of communities nearby to Kalka: Pipalyatjara, Kanpi, Nyapari, Watarru, Wingelina, Blackstone and Jamison are all within about an hour and a half’s drive. Kalka is the largest community west of Amata in the APY Lands.
Access to the community is by plane (twice per week from Alice Springs) and by road (turn off the Stuart Highway 45kms north of Marla, or off the Lasseter Highway 20 kms east of Curtain Springs). A fortnightly truck brings fresh, frozen and dry groceries, as well as other freight to the community.
Due to historical quirks of fate, while Kalka has the largest Anangu population in the far western APY Lands, some services, such as the regional school and health clinic, are located at nearby Pipalyatjara, about 15 kilometres away. An Essential Services Officer works between Pipalyatjara and Kalka communities maintaining power and water supplies. Other infrastructure development has been relatively slow to occur at Kalka and is only now being addressed. For example, a $1.5 million upgrade of power and water services is due to commence in late 2004/early 2005. Sealed roads will be possible once services are upgraded and additional housing for the growing population is also planned for the near future. An infrastructure plan that was finalised in 2004 details the street, essential service and housing requirements for the community well into the future.
Kalka is a small community with basic facilities: a small community store, arts centre, TAFE training centre, kitchen for meals on wheels and other programs, mechanical workshop, recreation shed, administration office and various storeage sheds and yards. There is a staff house, a visitor’s house and nurses houses, as well as housing for Anangu residents. Plans are in the pipeline for an additional staff house, additional visitors’ quarters, regional aged accommodation facility, regional training facility and rural transaction centre. Some of these projects will commence during 2004-05 while some will require further planning.
PHC-Kalka has a strong Council that meets regularly to make decisions about a wide range of programs. Some of these programs include: arts/crafts, training in trades and literacy/numeracy, aged care, child care, youth and recreation, community store, CDEP and landscaping, to name a few.
The community runs a CDEP (Community Development and Employment Program) to provide employment, training and development opportunities to its members. In 2004-05 there are 65 participants on CDEP involved in about 20 work and other activities. Training is a vital ingredient to the success of CDEP and trades and non-trades training are both delivered at Kalka to support the work of CDEP participants.
Many Anangu at Kalka are keenly aware that their prospects for increased employment and self-management are reliant on good training and support by adult educators and community staff. Consequently PHC has worked hard over the past few years to develop practical training programs as well as to create real jobs for Anangu. The community store is a significant success in this area, being the only store in the region run by Anangu. Similarly there is a growing pool of skilled office workers assisting the Community Development Officer and Council.
Socially Kalka Community and the APY Lands in general face some difficult issues. Substance abuse, particularly cannabis, is at a relatively high level, particularly amongst young men and there are many significant health problems throughout the Anangu population. The causes of health and other social problems are complex but some contributing factors are rapid lifestyle changes over the past few decades, loss or decrease in some traditional activities, the advent of the Australian universal social welfare system, poor infrastructure and servicing of communities over a prolonged period and a very underdeveloped economy. Petrol sniffing, which is a terrible and unsolved problem in some communities, is not a problem at Kalka.
Despite some underlying problems common to many communities of relatively poor indigenous people Kalka is generally a happy, peaceful community. Anangu enjoy going out hunting and gathering many different bush foods when they are in season as well as producing a wide range of art and craft works. The young men and women participate in regional football and softball competitions. Traditional cultural practices and concerns are very important and form part of the daily and annual life of the community.
Some ongoing and upcoming projects:
Social Programs and Projects:
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