Residents of a remote Kimberley community say the government has known for months that their water supply is making children sick.

The residents of Mulan in the East Kimberley say their water supply contains dangerously high levels of sodium and fluoride, which is destroying children’s teeth and giving them high blood pressure.

Community chief executive Margaret Jacobson says residents put their concerns to the Health Minister Kim Hames when he visited Mulan two months ago but nothing has been done.

She says it is completely unacceptable that children’s health is being put at risk.

“That’s my biggest concern, that they sit there accepting the fact that this is the quality of their drinking water, and unless someone does something about it, it’s just going to be considered an aesthetic problem.

“There’s no way anyone else travelling out here would drink the water.”

The Minister’s office has been contacted for comment.

– END –

Notes from Fluoride Action Network:

Aluminium fluoride will be produced from locally produced aluminium hydrate and sulfuric acid using imported calcium fluoride (though Australia has fluorspar mineral deposits at Speewah in the Kimberley region of Western Australia – owned by Elmina NL). It will use technology provided by the Swiss company Buss CPS.”

Mulan deal a return to native welfare days: Dodson
Reporter: Peta Donald, December 9, 2004, ABC Local Radio (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Excerpt: The remote desert outstation of Mulan in Western Australia, where last year children had the highest rate in the world of the eye disease trachoma, has become the first concrete example.

Physical size of 1887 aboriginal schoolchildren in the Kimberley region.
By NE Hitchcock, M Gracey, RA Maller, and RM Spargo.
Medical Journal of Australia, 1987; 146(8):415-9.

Abstract: This study has documented the weights and heights of 1887 Aboriginal schoolchildren from communities throughout the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The data have been analysed in relation to age and sex. Median weights and heights of the Aboriginal children approximated the 10th percentile for weight, and the 25th percentile for height of non-Aboriginal WA children. The data show that Aboriginal children who live in the more remote communities of the Kimberley region were smaller in weight and height than were those who lived in the towns. Retrospective data indicate that these differences between children from remote and town communities were present at their birth and through childhood. Median body mass indices (BMIs) approximated the 10th percentile values for BMI of non-Aboriginal children in the earlier years. The expected increase in BMI with age occurred later in Aboriginal children (at 11-12 years) than in non-Aboriginal children (eight years); in the older Aboriginal children (older than 11-12 years) median values approximated 25th percentile values of non-Aboriginal boys and 50th percentile values of non-Aboriginal girls of the same age.

Association Of Natural Fluoride In Community Water Supplies With Dental Health Of Children In Remote Indigenous Communities – Implications For Policy.
Applied Oral Health Workshop
By K McGuire, Kathy and R Tolentino.
Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal 1998; 22(5) Sept/Oct.

Abstract: The School of Oral Health Science arranged for a two day Oral Health Program with Aboriginal Health Worker Trainees at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services’ Council, School of Health Studies. Gum disease, dental decay and oral lesions are the three major dental conditions, which the health workers learnt.


The Provision of Health Services in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia: Dental Health (2000)
Report of the Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations
Report 33, Presented by Hon Mark Nevill MLC
Western Australia Legislative Council

Excerpts: The Committee notes the following comment in the recent Review of Health Services in the Kutjungka Region of Western Australia (the Kutjungka region includes the Balgo, Billiluna, Mulan and Yagga Yagga communities):

“Aboriginal people consistently raised concerns about the lack of
dental services. Dentists prioritise the schoolchildren when they visit
the region. Adults are required to travel to Halls Creek for dental
treatment. Improved resourcing for dental treatment needs to be a
major consideration for health service planning in the region.”

Recommendation 1: That a survey be undertaken of dental health in the Kimberley and that a plan and program be established to address dental health needs.

Recommendation 2: That the State Government make a greater effort to put fluoride into the water supplies in the Aboriginal communities of the Kimberley to aid in the prevention of dental caries.

Recommendation 3: That supplementary fluoride programs, in the absence of water fluoridation, be implemented in all schools in the Kimberley.