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'Massive Opportunity ' : Aboriginal Housing NT welcomes government investment in the Territory

Dechlan Brennan -

The $4 billion dollar investment for housing in remote communities across the Northern Territory by the Federal and Territory governments has been welcomed by Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory, labelling it a "massive opportunity".

The joint announcement on Tuesday will see a 10-year commitment to improve remote housing in the Territory, with up to 270 homes built each year. It comes as remote housing and land groups in the region have labelled the current housing situation "untenable".

On Wednesday, the Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory (AHNT) said the investment into housing in the NT was the culmination of 12 months of leadership and advocacy, heralding a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to address the critical shortage of housing across 73 remote communities, as well as making critical upgrades to a further 398 homelands.

They noted the funding aligned with efforts to grow remote communities, pointing to previously announced government funding for a program to establish 3000 remote jobs with a view to providing long-term sustainability of the Aboriginal-controlled housing sector.

The peak body for Aboriginal housing in the Territory works closely with all four of the NT's land councils, and said they would work closely with all of them, as well as with the housing sector and governments, to ensure the Aboriginal-controlled sector was "prioritised" to deliver works across the 10-year program.

Chief executive Skye Thompson said both AHNT and the land councils were confident they have had a strong voice in the decision-making process, in particular around the investment in homelands.

"I'm pleased that AHNT and the land councils provided strong guidance and leadership to governments to achieve this commitment, and our member organisations will be thrilled at the prospect of additional long-term funding to redress the long-term neglect of homelands," she said.

AHNT said the investment included a further $1 million over two years to help support the organisation's work in strengthening the Aboriginal-controlled sector.

Ms Thompson said the size and duration of the program meant the potential impact would go beyond housing, observing a shift in how organisations approach remote housing.

"Over time we will build homes that are a much better fit for climate and for culture," she said.

"We will involve and empower Aboriginal people in planning, design and construction as well as maintenance, repairs and tenancy management.

"Our aim is for the whole life cycle of Aboriginal housing to be Aboriginal-led."

Ms Thompson said, despite the details of the agreement still needing to be finalised, AHNT were optimistic.

"As Aboriginal people we know that sustained effort is required to achieve transformational change,' she said. "This is not just an investment in housing – it is an investment in people."

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