Aboriginal Housing Forum

Shelter WA supported by the Telethon Kids Institute successfully held a Metropolitan Aboriginal Housing in Perth. 

Attended by more than 80 people, with several Noongar elders present, the forum was an opportunity to hear from Aboriginal people and harness their experience and expertise to develop solutions for the housing issues that face Aboriginal people in the metropolitan area. 

Attendees from across the housing and services sector discussed the current issues and the opportunities to achieve housing reform. Group discussions encouraged participants to reflect on this issue and provide feedback. Working collaboratively, participants discussed what they would like the housing system to look like now and into the future. 

Speakers included representatives from the South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council, Noongar Mia Mia Community Housing Organisation and the Telethon Kids Institute. Also representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Communities (Housing).

Key issues discussed during the forum included:
• Current housing models are predicated on someone outside of the Aboriginal community making decisions
• There needs to be housing options and pathways for people whether they want to rent or buy a home
• Housing does not meet the cultural or individual needs, or respond to the changing circumstances of many people in the community
• Existing social housing stock is old and presents a challenge for families to maintain

“We were honoured to work with the Telethon Kids Institute to develop this forum, and to have Noongar elders in the room to inform discussions,” said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA. “The impact of safe, secure and affordable housing on a person’s health and well-being, employment and education is well known. This forum is an opportunity to understand the housing challenges in the metropolitan area and for us to learn how we can work with the Aboriginal community not only to develop solutions but to advocate for change.” Ms Mackenzie said.

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, MP attended the forum.

“Housing is a key social determinant of health,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Access to sound, affordable housing is a key issue many first Australians face whether they live in metropolitan Perth or the remote Kimberley regions or other regions around this great state of ours.

“Poor quality housing can lead to respiratory and mental health conditions as well as cardiovascular problems and the spread of communicable diseases. These diseases can impact on a person’s ability to learn and engage fully in education which can then lead to decreased employment opportunities and quality of life.”

The Minister announced new funding to Shelter WA look at the intersection of health and housing policy over the last twenty-five years and drawing on a strong evidence base to develop policy options for reform.

“I would like to the thank the Minister for his vision in supporting this important project,” said Ms Mackenzie. “Shelter WA will work closely with the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and National Shelter to deliver this project, ensuring there is a strong Indigenous voice and the correct cultural protocols along with a national perspective.”

In his presentation Gordon Cole, Chairman of Noongar Mia Mia, thanked Shelter WA for organising the forum.

“We always wanted to establish a forum, but we are too busy looking after our own people,” Mr Cole said. “It’s not an easy task but we thank Shelter WA for doing it.”

A report from the forum is currently being prepared. Shelter WA looks forward to working with Aboriginal organisations and the Aboriginal community, along with other key partners, to drive the outcomes sought for housing reform.

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