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Indigenous, housing organisations welcome “unprecedented” remote housing investment

Callan Morse -

Indigenous and housing organisations have welcomed the federal government’s $4 billion remote housing agreement, announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday.

The joint federal and NT government decade-long initiative aims to improve remote housing by seeing up to 270 homes built each year.

Following the announcement, Wilya Janta (Standing Strong) housing collaboration welcomed the initiative, with CEO Dr Simon Quilty saying the current model of community housing is untenable.

“We commend the federal and territory governments, land councils, and housing on this agreement, which will invest urgently-needed funding to fix the longstanding remote housing crisis,” Dr Quilty said.

“The current model of community engagement in housing design is failing. Homes in remote communities are overcrowded and overheated, fuelling the social, health, and cultural inequities faced by Aboriginal communities.

“While commendable, this funding will only make a difference if governments are genuinely committed to engaging with community and working on innovative solutions to housing design and evaluation.

Wilya Janta chair Jimmy Frank Jupurrurla, a Warumungu man, said housing built through the scheme needs to be culturally and climatically appropriate.

“Governments focus too much on cost efficiency and doing things quickly, but in the long run, these houses are making our people sick, our well being is forgotten. The new houses being built today are not designed for our culture or our climate,” Mr Frank (Jupurrurla) said.

“This announcement by Prime Minister Albanese is really good, and us Wumpurrarni people really want to work with government to make the money go to really good things.

“Climate change, what we expect in the next 20 years, these houses need to be prepared for really hot weather.”

National housing campaign Everybody’s Home said the federal government funding boost to create hundreds of homes in remote Indigenous communities is “a good step forward that must be build on”.

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize welcomed the announcement while highlighting the housing challenges Indigenous peoples face in remote communities.

“More federal funding to help build hundreds of extra homes in Indigenous communities is a great step forward, but it can’t stop here if we want to close the gap and see an end to overcrowding and homelessness,” Ms Azize said.

“Overcrowded and poor quality housing has long been a major problem for First Nations communities. The latest Close the Gap data shows increasing the proportion of Indigenous people living in appropriately sized housing has improved but is not on track.

“Secure, decent, affordable housing is essential to end disadvantage and is the foundation for a good life – it has flow on effects to other outcomes including improved health and education. 

“We encourage the federal government to dig deep when it comes to improving the housing for and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.” 

The Central Land Council also welcomed what it called an “unprecedented investment”.

CLC chief executive, Les Turner called the move a  “most welcome step towards significantly reducing overcrowding in our communities”.

“This investment goes beyond building much-needed houses. It has the potential to contribute towards closing the gap in health, education, employment and social outcomes as well,” Mr Turner said.

“I look forward to considering the detail of the commitment and working with the NT and Commonwealth governments, Aboriginal Housing NT and the other land councils to develop a genuine 10-year partnership agreement.”

Indigenous Australians make up just over three per cent of the Australian population they represented about 20 per cent of people who were homeless on the most recent Census night in August, 2021.

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