Business as usual remote housing strategy won’t Close the Gap
Francesca Williams and Mark Alice live in one of 70 Santa Teresa households who have lodged legal action against the NT Government
The Central Land Council has called on the NT government to urgently tackle the critical shortage and mismanagement of housing in remote communities by closing the gaps in its draft housing strategy.
The CLC’s submission comes as the majority of tenants in the remote community of Santa Teresa take unprecedented legal action against the NT government over long delays in urgent housing repairs.
The submission states that the strategy pays little attention to the financial arrangements that underpin remote housing now, let alone the investment required in the future, and fails to articulate a clear reform agenda.
“Without decent housing the gap will widen,” said CLC director David Ross.
“It’s therefore deeply concerning that the draft strategy lacks financial analysis and information about how we will house the rapidly rising number of people in remote communities in the very near future.”
Over the next 20-30 years the Territory’s Aboriginal population is forecast to increase dramatically while the NT’s dependence on the Commonwealth purse for housing supply and management is not expected to decline.
Mr Ross said the mass legal action by Santa Teresa residents is unheard of and highlights the sheer desperation felt in most remote communities.
“The situation in Santa Teresa is replicated right across the Territory and won’t be fixed without a radical shakeup of the NT’s failed housing system,” he said.
“Instead of putting forward ideas for the reform of remote housing services and service delivery the strategy reflects a business as usual approach that will continue to fail remote communities.”
“It’s great that the strategy acknowledges that housing issues in remote communities require different solutions,” he said. “But where are the government’s solutions?”
The CLC’s submission contains recommendations and ideas aimed at closing the gaps in the strategy, increasing its focus on remote communities and shifting towards a more diverse housing sector that includes capable community based housing providers.
“The government has put out a call for action. The actions Aboriginal people have told us they want to see would spell an end to government as the sole provider of public housing in remote communities,” said Mr Ross.
“Our constituents want a diverse community housing sector comparable to that in the rest of the country, but with an emphasis on Aboriginal participation and ownership of the community housing providers.”
10 February 2016
The CLC’s submission is at http://www.clc.org.au/publications/content/clc-submission-nt-housing-strategy1/