The four Northern Territory’s land councils want the Morrison and Gunner governments to commit to replacing the NT’s failed public housing system with a new Aboriginal-controlled model for remote communities, homelands and town camps.
Meeting in Darwin with Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, the land councils have told governments that returning responsibility for housing design, construction, maintenance and tenancy management to Aboriginal people is essential to closing the gap.
The land councils support a transition to a community housing system governed by Aboriginal people at the local, regional and NT levels that maximises Aboriginal employment and training and delivers professional and responsive services to all tenants.
Part of the detailed new model is a statutory NT-wide Aboriginal-controlled body, together with regional housing organisations that would allow the Territory’s diverse regions to participate according to their needs, aspirations and capacity.
The NT-wide body would manage housing funds and implement appropriate housing regulation and standards, and an independent Aboriginal-controlled peak body would monitor its performance.
“Both governments have invested substantial funds in NT Aboriginal housing and are willing to move towards a community housing system. We now have a roadmap for real action,” Central Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.
“It’s encouraging that Minister Wyatt is committed to working with us on housing reform. We welcome his support and call on whoever forms the next NT Government to commit to joining this effort.”
“The new model is not one-size-fits-all but allows for flexible service delivery and choice,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.
“The land councils will continue to consult with traditional owners and community residents across the NT to find out how the model can meet their needs and negotiate with the Australian and NT governments to see it implemented.”
Anindilyakwa Land Council chair Tony Wurramarrba said that in the Groote Archipelago they are already implementing one of the building blocks of the new system, a regional Aboriginal community housing organisation.
“We support the new model because we believe only Aboriginal accountability and control will resolve the national disgrace that is the current NT housing system,” he said.
“We welcome the model’s support for our neglected homelands that haven’t seen any new houses for more than a decade,” Tiwi Land Council chief executive Andrew Tipungwuti said.
“COVID-19 has taught us that working and living on our land is essential for the health and safety of our peoples.”
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