Funding Boost for Remote Indigenous Housing in NT
24 April 2018 at 5:39 pm
The Turnbull government has announced a $550 million funding boost for remote Indigenous housing in Northern Territory, but Labor warned that Indigenous housing in Australia was still under threat.
This five year funding will commence in 2018-19 and will be matched by the NT government, with the state government retaining responsibility for sub-leasing arrangements in remote communities during the period.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said this new investment aimed to address severe overcrowding in remote communities.
I was in Alice Springs yesterday with Senator Nigel Scullion, and @JNampijinpa to announce the funding agreement between the Turnbull Government and the NT Government on remote Indigenous housing and public hospital funding – guaranteeing essential services in the NT. #auspol pic.twitter.com/dC8tK64Ruy
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 24, 2018
“This $550 million funding commitment comes on top of the $1.7 billion investment into remote housing in the territory since 2008,” Scullion said.
“Our focus will be ensuring Aboriginal community control is at the heart of our investment, from decision making to employment and business procurement to ensure we deliver long term sustainable change in remote communities.”
The federal and NT governments also announced they had reached substantive agreement on the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), which would provide NT with $98.5 million in funding over the next five years to support the delivery of affordable housing and homelessness services.
Despite these funding announcements, the Labor Party said Indigenous housing in Australia was still under threat without a national agreement.
In a joint statement, Labor Senators Doug Cameron and Patrick Dodson said the government’s announcement was a “slap in the face” to Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia – who remained without an Indigenous housing funding agreement.
“Housing is a basic human right. It is wrong morally, politically and economically, for the Commonwealth government to walk away from their responsibility to fund remote housing, which is at crisis point across the nation, not just in the Northern Territory,” they said.
“A national agreement is needed to tackle the unacceptable amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander [people] experiencing homelessness and overcrowding.”
The ALP highlighted the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report on Specialist Homelessness Services 2016-17, which found that Indigenous people “continue to be over-represented in both the national homeless population and as users of specialist homelessness services”.
“The report also found that while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up only 3.3 per cent of the Australian population, they constitute 25 per cent of the clients accessing specialist homelessness services in 2016–17, which is an estimated 64,644 clients,” the senators said.
“Whether a person is on one side of the NT border or the other should not determine the level of Commonwealth funding available to provide them with housing.
“We need a committed, ongoing partnership from all levels of government to meet the scale of the need in remote communities. The Turnbull government must agree to an equitable sharing of funding responsibility with the states.”
Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett weighed into the debate on Twitter, questioning why Queensland was not provided with remote housing funding.
Queensland is leading the country on housing for remote indigenous communities. The Fed government can find funds for NT but not QLD? https://t.co/7ebuDkIynr
— Andrew Bartlett (@AndrewBartlett) April 23, 2018
“Queensland is leading the country on housing for remote Indigenous communities. The [federal] government can find funds for NT but not [Queensland]?” Bartlett said.
Fears about the future of remote housing in Queensland surfaced earlier this year, with concerns raised that the Turnbull government will not renew the National Partnership on Remote Housing when the agreement expires on 30 June 2018.
But a spokesperson for Scullion told Pro Bono News in February, that the Queensland government needed to commit to match funding like the NT government had.
“Unlike the Northern Territory, to date the Queensland government has not put any money on the table for Indigenous housing as part of these negotiations,” they said.
“If the Queensland Labor government was fair dinkum about remote housing in the state they would have put forward a commitment by now but they haven’t.”