Remote Indigenous Housing Under Threat
9 July 2018 at 4:24 pm
The Turnbull government has been urged to renew its investment in remote Indigenous housing, with the completion of the National Partnership on Remote Housing leaving several states without Commonwealth funding.
The National Partnership on Remote Housing (NPRH) – a program addressing the critical housing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities – concluded on 30 June 2018.
While the Turnbull government recently announced a $550 million funding boost for remote Indigenous housing in Northern Territory, the states of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia remain without an Indigenous housing funding agreement.
The National COSS (Council of Social Service) Network and National Shelter have called on the federal government to implement a new long-term funding partnership with the states.
It is now July. The National Partnership on Remote Housing is officially over.
The National COSS Network and National Shelter are calling for action from Governments to fund essential housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. https://t.co/wajDWAQGnC pic.twitter.com/CKRyMYv3wb
— QCOSS (@QCOSS_) July 5, 2018
Dr Jennie Gray, the deputy CEO of WACOSS, said Indigenous communities were being let down by government.
“These outcomes are essential to the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Without proper investment and a true partnership between the state and the federal government, these communities are being let down,” Gray said.
“Governments must not walk away from their commitments.”
ACOSS acting CEO Edwina McDonald said national leadership was needed.
“We need a commitment from the federal government to enter a new long-term funding partnership with the states to ensure these communities do not miss out on this critical infrastructure,” McDonald said.
QCOSS CEO Mark Henley added: “Access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing is essential if we are to close the gap in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A new partnership between governments is needed to deliver the required investment for the next decade.”
The collective have called for the federal government to invest in a recurrent program with the states, which would fund and maintain new and existing houses, preserve the functionality of dwellings and increase the life of the housing assets.
Adrian Pisarski, the CEO of National Shelter, said while the commitment to NT was an excellent start, the federal government had “neglected the rest of the country”.
This comes as the WA government recently launched a national public campaign to pressure the federal government to not abandon 165 remote communities across the state.
The federal government’s own independent Remote Housing Review identified that around 1,300 new homes will need to be built in WA over the next 10 years to address issues of overcrowding in remote communities amongst population growth.
But the WA government said the federal government intended to “wash its hands” of providing remote housing funding after investing $60 million over the next three years – leaving WA with a $400 million shortfall.
As of last Saturday, the National Partnership on Remote Housing has expired & Indigenous Aussies living in these communities face an uncertain future. It's time for @TurnbullMalcolm to step up and join with WA Govt to create a new partnership. #Dontwalkaway #WA #FairShare pic.twitter.com/by8ZLDqC3A
— Peter Tinley AM MLA (@TinleyMLA) July 2, 2018
WA Housing Minister Peter Tinley said it was “morally reprehensible” for the federal government to walk away from ongoing funding.
“If the [prime minister] does not step in to resolve this issue – as requested in a formal letter sent to him by WA Premier Mark McGowan on May 11 – he will be showing his true stripes as the so-called PM for Closing the Gap,” Tinley said.
“We want to Close the Gap – not slam the door.”
ALP’s shadow homelessness minister Doug Cameron said the Turnbull government had turned his back on remote Indigenous communities.
“This cut shows an appalling lack of leadership and a complete misunderstanding of the Close the Gap framework,” Cameron said.
“Overcrowding is a root cause of Indigenous disadvantage because it leads to a range of other social and health problems in remote communities.”
Pro Bono News contacted Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion’s office for comment.