Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New deal for upgrade of Queensland Indigenous housing

Joint Media Release with:

  • Robert Schwarten, Queensland Minister for Public Works, Housing and Information and Communication Technology

In a new agreement with the Queensland Government, the Australian Government has made an initial offer to the Queensland Government of $60 million to upgrade to an acceptable level houses currently managed by Indigenous Community Housing Organisations.

In exchange, the Queensland Government will take on additional responsibility for tenancy management of the properties.

“Housing is absolutely central to the Australian Government’s agenda to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said today.

As part of the deal, proper tenancy management practices will be introduced for all Indigenous community housing in Queensland.

Queensland Housing Minister Robert Schwarten said he welcomed the initiative of the Commonwealth Government in offering $60 million to upgrade houses managed by Indigenous Community Housing Organisations.

“The Commonwealth is well aware of the enormity of the problem and we are pleased to work with the Commonwealth to help try to resolve it,” Mr Schwarten said.

“No-one should be under any illusions here. There are some 2,000 households in varying degrees of housing stress, an enormous maintenance bill and other issues such as unpaid local government rates.”

“This deal is part of our national plan for addressing Indigenous housing in remote areas,” Ms Macklin said.

“We are determined to address the desperate housing needs in remote communities in ways that encourage personal responsibility and help rebuild social norms in Indigenous communities.”

The Australian Government is introducing reforms that will fundamentally change how housing and municipal services are delivered to Indigenous communities in remote locations.

It will:

  • ensure tenancies for Indigenous housing are properly managed, and that homes are upgraded and maintained
  • secure long-term tenure for Government of Indigenous-owned land
  • open up pathways for home ownership
  • stimulate local economic development and investment

The $60 million offer comes in the context of Queensland’s major reforms to its land tenure arrangements through the recent passage of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Amendment Act 2008.

This Act introduces long-term leases of up to 99 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land for residential and public housing, commercial development or community infrastructure.

The Australian Government is committed to an ongoing partnership with Queensland on this work and with the other states.