Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

$75 million Boost to Indigenous Housing

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

Indigenous communities in rural and remote Australia today received a major funding boost in today’s Federal Budget announcement of an extra $75 million over four years for housing and infrastructure.

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, and Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today said the funding would provide more Indigenous Australians with secure, healthy and safe housing.

Senator Vanstone said, “The state of housing and infrastructure in rural and remote indigenous communities has been steadily improving but more can be done. Recent figures show only 29% of dwellings were in need of major repairs or replacement compared to 39% in 1992.”

“This extra funding will help to address the remaining problems, providing extra housing as well as repairs and replacement of old houses, along with improved infrastructure and management,” Senator Vanstone said.

“One of the keys parts of this package is giving the local Indigenous communities the skills to maintain their own houses. This Government is keen to bring a halt to the ‘build and abandon’ approach to Indigenous housing and instead give the communities the skills they need to help themselves.”

“Importantly, this money will also provide funds to speed up changes to the management of community housing, so that long-term quality housing is provided to communities.”

Mr Ruddock said the initiative was part of the Government’s broader commitment to practical reconciliation focusing on health, housing, education and employment.

“The Government has increased funding to targeted indigenous programs in these areas since coming to office in 1996,” Mr Ruddock said.

“Inadequate housing is linked to poor health in indigenous communities, a problem the Government is determined to address.

“The standard of housing and essential services in many indigenous communities is poor and this causes health problems and especially contributes to the spread of infectious diseases among children.

“Importantly, this funding also addresses the need for improvements to housing related infrastructure in communities which often don’t have access to the things that many people take for granted, like clean water, safe waste removal and reliable power services.

Mr Ruddock said the infrastructure component would be used by ATSIC to make sure that water, sewerage and power was in place when new houses were built in remote communities.

Mr Ruddock and Senator Vanstone said the funding was in addition to the $340 million already allocated annually by the Commonwealth to Indigenous-specific housing and housing-related infrastructure.