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First family makes move into new affordable accomodation in Darwin

Dechlan Brennan -

The Liddle family are the first of more than 40 First Nations families in greater Darwin to move into new affordable housing delivered by the Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation.

Funded by a $20 million investment from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA), Sarah and Murray Liddle, as well as their four children, will move into their four bedroom home this week after suffering homelessness whilst searching for affordable accommodation for the last three months.

"This really is a dream come true for us," Ms Liddle said. "We have been living with family in a small home, just to stay off the streets."

The Liddle Family (Image: supplied)

The NT has a homelessness rate 12 times that of the national average, with 88 per cent of all people in the Territory suffering being First Nations. This is combined with additional barriers, including reports of discrimination at rental inspections and during the application process.

Ms Liddle said the entire market is "so crowded" and that the family had to send their son to boarding school in Adelaide due to the impossible nature of studying in a house with 11 people.

"It's been a huge sacrifice financially, especially since we can't afford mainstream rental accommodation," Ms Liddle said.

"Having a home again is huge for our family: now and for our children's future. Being able to have a bit of money to save, and not counting our coins to make sure we can buy milk and bread for the kids before the next pay, is such a relief."

NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, the federal Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, said this was great news for the whole Liddle family.

"We know that having secure housing is so important and will make such a difference to people's lives," Senator McCarthy said. "I commend Yilli Rreung for its efforts to boost supply of affordable housing for Indigenous Territorians."

One of the largest community housing providers in the NT, the Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation manages over 200 properties across the Greater Darwin region and has invested in 42 homes.

Each of the 42 homes will be leased to employed, low-income First Nations families. 25 per cent of market-priced rent is subsidised to offer a "pathway for tenants to build their financial futures".

The Liddle family and John Adams, Operation Manager, Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation (Image: supplied)

Yilli Rreung chief executive Michael Berto said the organisations had over 20 years' experience supporting Indigenous people with accommodation, "from emergency to affordable and sustainable housing solutions".

"Seeing Sarah and Murray Liddle and their children open the door to their family home fills all of us at Yilli, with pride and joy," Mr Berto said.

"We know only too well the stress homelessness presents and how significant this issue is, particularly for First Nations people here in the Territory."

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said First Nations people in Australia "disproportionately experience overcrowding and homelessness".

"[T]his boost in housing supply in the Greater Darwin region will help ease overcrowding and help more than 40 First Nations families get a roof over their heads."

Funding for the new housing comes from the ABA - a special account legislated from mining royalties on Indigenous land in the NT, to benefit Aboriginal people living in the NT - and is delivered by an Indigenous-led corporate Commonwealth entity, the Northern Territory Aboriginal Investment Corporation (NTAIC).

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a $4 billion remote housing fund for the Territory, in partnership with the NT government, to help close the gap. The 10-year commitment would 270 homes built each year to improve remote housing, with the goal of halving overcrowding.

Solomon Labor MP Luke Gosling, whose electorate takes in the greater Darwin area, said local organisations like Yilli Rreung worked hard to create affordable housing for Indigenous Territorians, and their commitment was backed by his government.

In pushing the new housing initiative, Mr Gosling told Parliament earlier this week: "The Government's commitment to working with First Nations people to close the gap is genuine and informed by evidence."

"We need to do more to address the entrenched inequality they experience."

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