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NT Aboriginal Housing peak body welcomes Productivity Commission’s findings on Closing The Gap

Dechlan Brennan -

Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory (AHNT) has welcomed the findings of the Productivity Commission's Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap report released this week.

The final report of the commission's first three-yearly review of government action on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap argued governments needed to move away from a 'business-as-usual' mindset and embrace power-sharing arrangements.

On Friday, AHNT said they knew Closing the Gap would mean a dramatic shift in government thinking, arguing the report showed this hadn't been embraced.

"The report suggests that governments fail to fully grasp the nature and scale of change required to meet their commitments under the Agreement," they said in a statement.

AHNT chief executive Skye Thompson noted that the report called for genuine partnership and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people.

Voices from our sector are essential in shaping policies that affect our lives and homes," she said.

"Aboriginal people need to lead at every stage of housing, from design and construction through to maintenance and tenancy support. Governments need to trust that by relinquishing control over decisions they are enabling better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

AHNT cited figures showing relative to the national average, there are 12 times more homeless people in the NT, with 87 per cent of them Aboriginal. More than of all remote communities are considered overcrowded, and 97.6 per cent of people living in severely overcrowded dwellings are Aboriginal people.

Labor MP for Palmerston Luke Gosling spoke on Thursday, cited an update to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility's (NAIF), emphasising social housing to help alleviate the concerns which have led to significant disparity in the outcomes of First Nations people in the NT.

"NAIF continues to provide the economic and social infrastructure needed to advance local businesses, communities, and First Nations people across the North," Mr Gosling said.

AHNT said they acknowledged both the federal and NT government have made strong efforts to work constructively with the Northern Territory's Aboriginal community-controlled housing sector. These include power sharing with First Nations communities and organisations; supporting Indigenous data sovereignty by establishing Aboriginal-led data collection; and stronger accountability to drive behaviour change.

Ms Thompson said the Productivity Commission report was a crucial step in recognising what needed to be done to deliver on the Closing the Gap priority reforms.

"We call on governments to partner with Aboriginal people and act on the report's recommendations to ensure a future where all Aboriginal people can access safe and appropriate housing," she said.

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