Australia’s tidiest town is…Santa Teresa

6 April 2019

The remote Aboriginal community of Santa Teresa in the Northern Territory has been named the 2019 winner of the Australian Sustainable Communities Tidy Town Award

Proud residents from Santa Teresa flew from the Northern Territory to Tasmania to attend the gala national Tidy Towns awards ceremony. Throughout the ceremony the Santa Teresa residents and their stakeholders were continually called to the stage and presented with the following award categories:

  • Litter Prevention
  • Environmental Communication and Engagement
  • Community Health, Wellbeing and Interest and
  • Young Legends – Group

as well as being highly commended for its:

  • Resource Recovery and Waste Management

The evening concluded with Santa Teresa receiving a standing ovation from competing towns when named the winner of the Australian Sustainable Communities Tidy Town Award

“ We think this is the best place to live in central Australia, we love it here ” Santa Teresa radio broadcaster Phillip Alice said.

The quality of engagement across the community was key to Santa Teresa’s stand out success at this year’s awards. Among residents travelling to the awards were Traditional Owner Nora Hayes who is also an Assistant Teacher at the Ltyentye Apurte Catholic Education Centre and its Deputy Principal Justin Colley, MacDonnell Regional Council civil workers Melvyn and Darren Young and the Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC) CEO Susie Lowe.

AAAC is a great example of the Santa Teresa community’s self determination and was central to them winning the Community Health, Wellbeing and Interest category through their range of programs that include a men’s shed, hair salon, nutrition, horse and a pregnant women and young mums program. As well as their engagement with the community, the Melbourne Football Club are investing into greening the Santa Teresa oval.

Traditional Owner and Assistant Teacher Nora Hayes says “ We have done a lot of things at school. The kids have designed posters that reminds everyone to pick up rubbish and how to recycle. We also have regular working bees as part of Eco Schools Program. ”

The great work of the Ltyentye Apurte Catholic Education Centre was acknowledged by winning the Litter Prevention category while the tireless work of its Deputy Principal Justin Colley was recognised when the school’s student representative council won the Young Legends category.

Through consultation with community leaders, stakeholders and residents MacDonnell Regional Council undertook to assist young people to best understand how their community can be more sustainable and empower them to guide environmental decisions into the future.

To help make this happen, MacDonnell Regional Council engaged the creators behind the ABC children’s television presenters – dirtgirl, scrapboy and Costa the garden gnome – and acquired their Get Grubby program for use in the Council’s early learning centres and participating schools.

“ The school also does the interactive online learning program Get Grubby. dirtgirl and Costa knows a lot about looking after the environment. We were lucky to have them visit the schools. The kids from the early learning centre and the older ones from MacYouth also do the program ” Traditional Owner and Assistant Teacher Nora Hayes said.

The enthusiasm of the television presenters and the application of this program throughout the community saw Santa Teresa win the Environmental Communication and Engagement category.

MacDonnell Regional Council’s commitment to the environment is further evident in their new waste management facility that is best practice in remote Australia. It is the result of two years of negotiations with Tradition Owners to find the best location for the facility to have the lowest possible impact on the environment. This undertaking received a Highly Commended award in the Resource Recovery and Waste Management category.

“ We are now working to a new normal as we look forward to hosting next year’s Tidy Towns national finalists in Santa Teresa ” MacDonnell Regional Council CEO Jeff MacLeod said. 

Established as a Catholic Mission in the 1950s, Santa Teresa became home to Aboriginal people from Alice Springs and the mission at the former gold mining town of Arltunga. Known to the local Eastern Arrernte speakers as Ltyentye Apurte (pronounce Ginger Porta), Santa Teresa is today home to about 600 residents.

download media release as PDF or watch the video from their submission