A new $75 million remote Aboriginal housing agreement now formalised between the State and Federal Governments supports the development of an Aboriginal Housing Strategy that places the needs of Aboriginal people at its centre.
Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink announced the new agreement for housing on the APY Lands, Far North communities of Dunjiba and Umoona and the West-coast communities of Yalata and Koonibba.
“I am pleased to announce that this agreement has been formalised by both the State and Federal Governments, and I am looking forward to talking with communities to hear directly from families about what is important, what is needed and what might be the possible solutions,” said Minister Lensink.
“During the negotiations with the Federal Government, South Australia was able to achieve an improved outcome, reflecting the importance we place on providing better housing in remote Aboriginal communities.
“This is the first time the State Government has matched the Federal commitment in this space.”
The Federal Government is providing an up-front payment of $37.5 million, to be matched by the State Government over the next five years. This will provide the opportunity to work with Aboriginal people and the wider community including the housing industry on how to maximise this investment to meet housing needs.
“I am also pleased to announce that the South Australian Housing Trust (SAHT) Board has established an Aboriginal Advisory Committee, to best inform decisions about Aboriginal Housing, not just in remote areas, but across the State,” said Minister Lensink.
“The committee will be made up of Aboriginal people from across government and nongovernment sectors from metropolitan Adelaide, and regional and remote South Australia.”
Membership is currently being finalised.
“This committee will engage with Aboriginal leaders and Aboriginal people across South Australia to inform an Aboriginal Housing Strategy for the state,” said Minister Lensink.
The Aboriginal Housing Strategy will be complementary to the State Housing and Homelessness Strategy, currently being developed and overseen by the Housing Taskforce. A separate strategy recognises the specific needs of Aboriginal people, who are over represented in overcrowding and homelessness.
The Committee will include experts in human services and experts in delivery of services to Aboriginal people.
SAHT Board member and Eastern Arrernte woman Shona Reid, who has extensive experience in providing services across Aboriginal communities, said the funding and the new advisory committee will create opportunities for Aboriginal communities in South Australia.
“It is an opportunity to be involved in decision making on matters that truly impact our everyday lives and for us to be creative and innovative about how we respond to families and communities who are most in need of support and care,” said Ms Reid.
“This advisory committee is a real opportunity for Aboriginal people to have a meaningful and influential voice in this process.
“The committee can allow all sectors to have an impact and find the most appropriate solutions to housing needs on the APY Lands.” SAHT Board Presiding member Gary Storkey said talking to communities would give the Board a greater understanding of what aspects of remote housing are working well, and those that are not.
“The signing of the agreement means that we have the funding; now we will engage with people in the area to hear what they have to say and what they think is the best way forward,” said Mr Storkey.
“It cannot be overstated how crucial it is to have Aboriginal people involved in this process.”
Minister Lensink said the agreement ensured there would be no service reductions.