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Aboriginal Housing and Homelands conference to tackle key issues in the top end

Giovanni Torre -

Aboriginal housing leaders, workers, residents and supporters will gather in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) next week for the second Aboriginal Housing and Homelands conference.

Hosted by the Aboriginal-controlled peak body, Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory (AHNT), delegates will explore complex challenges facing the sector – including how to significantly scale up the availability of housing appropriate for both climate and culture; how to build sustainable jobs in homelands; and how to overhaul the system to restore and embed Aboriginal decision-making and meet priority targets under Closing the Gap commitments.

AHNT chief executive Skye Thompson says the sector is "energised and primed for action".

"Aboriginal housing in the NT has never been adequate and since the federal Intervention in 2007, Aboriginal people have less control over their lives. There's been no new housing on homelands for 10 years since the Commonwealth handed back responsibility to the NT. After years of neglect, existing homelands houses are in bad shape," she said on Thursday.

"But things are changing. The Prime Minister's recent announcement of a massive funding injection is heartening. It's an exciting investment in Aboriginal people in the NT. It's what we've been lobbying for, so the sector will have the resources and the time to do things better."

In 55 sessions across three days, hundreds of delegates will hear from governments; land councils; Aboriginal-controlled organisations; architects; health workers; researchers and charities.

Keynote speakers include the new Northern Land Council chair, Matthew Ryan, fresh from conversations with the four most senior politicians in Indigenous affairs; Chair of the NT Aboriginal Investment Commission, Barbara Shaw, who grew up in a town camp in Mparntwe/Alice Springs and brings "a wealth of experience" working in youth support, women's safety and affordable housing; and Yiŋiya Mark Guyula, a senior Yolŋu leader for the Liya-Dhalinymirr' Djambarrpuyŋu clan who is also the Independent Member for Mulka in the NT Legislative Assembly.


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