9 Oct 2011

Poverty in central Australia shocks Amnesty head

6:50 pm on 9 October 2011

The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, says the Australian government needs to be internationally shamed into addressing poverty among indigenous Australians.

After touring the settlement of Utopia, 250 kilometres from Alice Springs, Mr Shetty said the people there are living in inhumane conditions.

He says a two-bedroom house he saw had 15 people living in it - others had no toilets or showers. Some had been without electricity and water for months.

Mr Shetty says the federal government is contravening its human rights obligations.

He says the community has been stripped of funds that provide basic services, including running water, electricity, and hygiene services.

"I think it's quite shocking that you can have this level of poverty and this level of lack of basic facilities in one of the richest countries in the world," he says.

"Their housing...is really not suitable for habitation. They have no power, they have no basic facilities, sanitation, toilets."

Mr Shetty says funds are not coming into remote communities and it's time the international human rights community condemned the appalling treatment of indigenous Australians.