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New housing for West Arnhem Land community

Dechlan Brennan -

The NT government has announced a housing initiative in Gunbalanya community, in West Arnhem, with ten new homes built and "progress" being made on a new 24-lot subdivision.

The community is approximately 300 km east of Darwin and 86.8 per cent identity as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The NT Government said on Wednesday the residents of Gunbalanya had seen positive changes to the community, including upskilling and employment.

The work is being carried out in a joint-venture between two Aboriginal Business Enterprises: The Gunbalanya-based Demed Aboriginal Corporation and Darwin-based, Aboriginal-owned construction company Dice Australia (DDJV).

Minister for Remote Housing and Homelands, Selena Uibo, said jobs and housing were key priorities for her government, and the "halfway mark of housing in Gunbalanya" was an important achievement for the delivery of homes across the NT.

"Better homes mean better outcomes for health, psychological wellbeing, education and employment as well as improved living conditions and social status," Minister Uibo said.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said: "Delivering 17 new homes, and preparing the 24-lot subdivision to begin works in the drier months to come will ease overcrowding in Gunbalanya."

"It has also provided the community [with] local employment opportunities as construction continues."

During the wet season, the community is only accessible by air and housing across all regional and remote communities in the NT has been consistently promoted as a vital need that multiple governments have failed to implement.

The NT Government says they have built 38 new homes in Gunbalanya - with a further 17 homes currently under construction - since they came to power in 2016.

They also stated 12 more homes were planned in the future.

"More than 60 homes in the community have been upgraded, and builders are working on the extension and upgrade of 40 homes as part of the innovative Room to Breathe program," the Labor Government said in a statement.

"This means over 60 families in Gunbalanya are living healthier lives, combating overcrowding, stress, and associated disease."

Tiwi MP Manuel Brown, whose electorate of Arafura covers Gunbalanya, said the community had welcomed the investment by the government, noting they had been "highly involved" in the planning and construction works.

"This has been a job-creating and upskilling project which has offered a number of certified training opportunities for locals of the community," the Labor MP said.

"Nearly half the homes have been completed, which means dozens of families now have safe, healthy homes. I have heard that this has made such a difference for families to have their own home."

The government also announced they are investing in a new health facility in the community, with the tender likely to be released in the coming weeks.

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