The lack of indigenous specific or appropriate housing is of grave concern. The Indigenous community in Canberra does not have its own or culturally appropriate public housing, administered or supported by indigenous organisations. What indigenous public housing there once was had been absorbed into the general pool, administered by a non-indigenous organisation. These matters not only contravene the National Affordable Housing agreement, but fail to meet the needs of the indigenous community.
This government, is a signatory to the National Affordable Housing Agreement, which agreed as an outcome, that indigenous people would have the same housing opportunities as other Australians. That Indigenous people be provided with safe and culturally appropriate housing. The agreement also establishes, that it is the role of the Territory to take responsibility for leadership in the matter of an indigenous housing policy.
Yet, despite being signatories to the agreement, more than 50% of indigenous tenants are still waiting to be relocated as part of the urban housing renewal program. In fact, not one of the 1,288 new dwellings begin delivered as part of the public housing renewal program will be specific or culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Even though the Directorate tells us that almost 8.7 percent of all public housing is tenanted by indigenous occupants. No doubt the Minister considers it appropriate to ignore the plight of indigenous Canberrans – the lack of an appropriate indigenous housing policy would confirm this.
We therefore call on the ACT government to develop an appropriate indigenous housing policy. And as part of the policy, to set a specific budget for Indigenous public housing as a % of public housing stock and report on the number of ATSI peoples inhabiting those houses.
But this issue is secondary only to the lack of available aged care housing in the territory. 5 houses. The Territory has five culturally appropriate indigenous aged care houses. In the last election, there was a promise of a further 4.4 million dollars in funding. But this was not included in the budget.
On close questioning during Estimates, it was admitted that, of the 350 thousand dollars tagged as indigenous aged care housing, only 150 thousand would be spent on an indigenous aged care feasibility study, the remainder went to other non-indigenous, though no-doubt well-deserving community projects.
This government loves their feasibility studies, even though indigenous aged care housing – 5 of them, already exists. Perhaps this is a stalling exercise? Everyone in Australia deserves quality aged care. Yet, this government has consistently shown a lack of respect for the aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this matter.
We call on the government to back up its election promises and commit to the development of culturally appropriate aged care housing for the indigenous elderly. And to do so without further delay. And to report such within the budgets – and not group this with other non-indigenous initiatives giving a false impression to the community.