Remote Housing Beyond 2018
The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) was to provide a new direction for remote Aboriginal housing with $5.5 billion in funding. It was a comprehensive COAG reform strategy that aimed to address overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and severe housing shortages in remote Indigenous communities within a 10 year time frame (to June 2018).
Compounding the inherent pressures of overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and severe housing shortages in remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia was the WA Premier’s November 2014 announcement of the WA government’s intention to close of between and 100 and 150 remote communities. This followed a Federal announcement that ongoing federal funding was to be removed from remote communities in WA.
Subsequently, there was a groundswell of protest around the proposed closures locally in WA, interstate and internationally. The protests led to a re-evaluation of the comments and various announcements by the WA Government. However, it must be noted that the WA government has not articulated how the funding removed by the Abbott government will be replaced.
While the initial Barnett statement may not led to the closure of communities as initially suggested, it is important to note, as it has led to a deep scepticism in communities around the Government’s commitments around housing and homelessness in remote communities.
In June 2015, the WA Government announced the establishment of a long term regional services reform plan, the ‘Reform Unit’ is being led by the former Director General of Housing, Grahame Searle. The 'Reform Unit' has a much broader agenda than housing and homelessness.
The WA government in submissions to the Commonwealth Grants Commission has noted there is no agreement beyond the life of NPARIH (2018).
Australia has to develop a COAG commitment to remote Indigenous housing that goes beyond 2018. This will require a vision that is specific to housing and homelessness; one that is adaptable to the cultural and geographical demands of remote communities.
Shelter has commenced a process of consultation around the future of NPARIH and is working towards convening a workshop in the next few months. More details will be posted when the date and venue are confirmed.
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