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Urgent call for federal intervention amid housing crisis

Nina Hendy -

An urgent call for the federal government to tackle the Indigenous housing crisis has been made amid the nation's escalating cost of living pressures. 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA) has joined forces with the Community Housing Industry Association, National Shelter, and Homelessness Australia amid surging rents and interest rate rises to call for immediate government intervention. 

Three pieces of legislation are currently before the Senate in a bid to ease housing pressure in Australia. Housing bodies argue government intervention is crucial in a bid to avoid a national crisis.  

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association chief executive Ivan Simon said the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities have been ignored by governments. 

He sees the current strategy, priorities and budget commitments in place as the start, not the end of the process of addressing the challenges that exist. He urged the federal government to indicate how it proposes to resource the needs of Aboriginal people in the longer term.   

"The extremely high levels of severe overcrowding in remote and non-remote communities continues to have negative impacts on the health and well-being of our people. This also includes the standard of ‘disrepair’ of the current housing stock owned and or managed by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Housing Organisations," he said.

Since its launch in 2020 NATSIHA has represented all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-controlled housing organisations. Its purpose is to facilitate access to quality, accessible, affordable and culturally appropriate housing to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities

The organisation has worked on the Closing The Gap Housing Sector Strengthening Plan and has worked with a number of organisations to deliver key targets that benefits Indigenous Australians. 

The call for urgent assistance follows recently released ABS Census data shows a five per cent increase in the number of Australians experiencing homelessness, while UNSW City Futures Research Centre analysts have found 640,000 Australians are in housing stress with the number tipped to hit one million by 2041.

The National Shelter Rental Affordability Index showed a 14 per cent decline in rental affordability the last year, with an even steeper decline in affordability for lower income households.

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