Northern Territory

Community support package for Katherine

Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne and Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion announced that the Government is providing $5.7 million for a community support package for people impacted by Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) emanating from the RAAF Base Tindal in Katherine in the Northern Territory. This package has been informed by the Interim Human Health Risk Assessment to be released.

As part of the RAAF Base Tindal environmental investigation, an Interim Human Health Risk Assessment has been prepared and identifies potential exposure pathways to the Katherine community.

Following consideration of the risk assessment’s findings, enough information is now known about the potential exposure pathways to provide a community support package.

The community support package, to be administered by the Federal Department of Health, is consistent with the community support package provided to the communities near RAAF base Williamtown, NSW and Army Aviation Centre Oakey, Queensland.

The community support package will include:

  • An epidemiological study that will look at potential causes and patterns of health effects in the Katherine, NT community.
  • A Voluntary Blood Testing Program for those who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the RAAF Base Tindal Investigation Area; and
  • Additional dedicated mental health and counselling services to assist those in the Katherine, NT community affected by PFAS contamination.

The Department of Health is currently making arrangements for these services to be available in early 2018 and will update the community as soon as arrangements are finalised.

PFAS have been used since the 1950s in industrial processes, in a range of common household products, and some types of firefighting foams. Their use in firefighting foams has raised some environmental concerns in Australia as PFAS has contaminated sites where the foams have been used.

There is no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects. The Government has established an Expert Health Panel to advise on any potential adverse human health impacts of exposure to PFAS.

The Australian Government recognises that the uncertainty around exposure to PFAS is causing stress and anxiety in affected communities and is committed to addressing communities’ concerns.

Source: Australian Government