Work has begun to address the chronic housing shortages plaguing indigenous communities in the Northern Territory under the government’s 10-year $1.
1 billion remote accommodation program.
Housing Minister Gerry McCarthy will today visit Titjikala in central Australia, one of 21 Aboriginal communities where Labor’s flagship election promise is rolling out for additional living, sleeping and cooking spaces for local families.
The NT has the worst rates of homelessness and overcrowding in the country, with Aboriginal families making up 98 per cent of those living in severely overcrowded conditions.
The NT royal commission has heard an Aboriginal “housing crisis”, where up to 30 people live under the same roof and kids sleep on the floor, is a key driver of youngsters entering the child protection and youth detention systems.
Crowded housing affects a child’s capacity to maintain hygiene, allows infections to pass quickly, and increases exposure to cigarette smoke and loud noises, while poverty limits nutrition, the commission was told.
This has created an “epidemic” of hearing loss in indigenous children that leads to learning difficulties, family breakdown and criminal involvement.
Mr McCarthy acknowledged the issue has been overlooked for too long.
He says a good home has lasting impacts on health and education outcomes that are key Closing the Gap targets.
“This massive project will create hundreds of jobs and improve thousands of lives,” Mr McCarthy said.
The scheme will be delivered by local workforces to strengthen community economies and will be guided by local decision-making, with tenders awarded to indigenous businesses.
Mr McCarthy concedes the record investment still isn’t enough and he wants federal funding support to match, or better, it.
$1.1 BILLION OVER A DECADE:
– $500m to build new homes.
– $200m to build additional living spaces on existing houses.
– $200m for repairs and maintenance
– $200m for new government employee housing