Cocos (Keeling) Islands accommodation matters

Number: A015/2021

Date: 23 March 2021

Topic: Government House and doctor accommodation

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the Department) wants to ensure the Cocos communities understand recent decisions relating to accommodation leases of Commonwealth property on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and to reaffirm our ongoing commitment to the provision of quality health services to local residents.

The Department elected to end the month-to-month-lease of Government House on West Island to the Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands (the Shire), following a range of discussions and correspondence previously undertaken between the Department and Shire management for some time on the matter.

Government House is a Commonwealth residence and asset required to perform official functions, public events, and accommodate a range of visiting dignitaries and senior government officials, particularly as we adjust to a post-COVID environment where community and cultural events of national and local significance can be marked. While the residence was previously leased to the Shire, it is appropriate that it revert to its intended purpose as an official residence of the Government.

The Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands (the Shire) has terminated the lease agreement for the doctor’s accommodation on Home Island (known as House 100) with the Department. The Department remains committed to continuing to provide quality health services to residents on both Home Island and West Island in CKI. Two nurses reside on Home Island and are on call 24/7 to provide medical services after hours. Further, after hours transfer between Islands continue to be available for the doctor as required. From June onwards, the locum doctors who will provide medical services until the recruitment of a new doctor will be temporarily housed on Home Island.

As the Shire is the trustee for all land and buildings on Home Island, the Department will continue to work with the Shire to resolve the matter of more permanent accommodation for the doctor, noting the Home Island community’s preference for this to be on Home Island. The Department will update you once further information on the resolution is available.

Aaron O'Niell

Assistant Secretary, Indian Ocean Territories Branch