Paradise lost

Bessie Purvis Petyarr spends much of her day raking rubbish away from the front of her home and into a stinking pile that grows day by day.Bessie, her husband Jeffrey Pepperill Kemarr and nine family members live in a 30-year-old corrugated iron hut in Camel Camp, one of 16 outstations that make up the Utopia homelands, stretched across 10,000 km2 about 250 km north of Alice Springs and home to 1000 members of the Alyawarr and Anmatyerr people.

The lack of any kind of garbage collection service is just one of the factors threatening the health of Bessie’s family. Filthy water leaks from the bathroom plumbing, the toilet does not flush, the wood fire is broken and there is no running water.

One of their teenage daughters is thought to be suffering from lupus and at one stage her life was in serious danger before prednisolone treatment helped her to regain weight. 

Nobody knows if the squalor of her living conditions triggered her