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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Massive Boost for Indigenous NT Housing by Federal Government

The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have agreed on a package of housing and infrastructure initiatives that will help significantly improve living conditions for Indigenous people in remote communities in the Northern Territory. The package represents a significant investment by the Australian Government of $163.5 million, and includes the $70 million announced previously by Minister Brough for Alice Springs town camp redevelopment.

The $70 million for Alice Springs is part of an overall strategy to alleviate social problems in Alice Springs and will only be made available if Tangentyere Council and the Town Camps follow through on their agreement to long-term lease arrangements for the Town Camps.

Minister Brough urged the Tangentyere Council and the Town Camps to formally agree to this approach by Friday.

“It is a fair and reasonable agreement and is the only sensible way forward for residents of the Town Camps and Alice Springs.” Minister Brough said “People have had plenty of time to consider this and $60 million of the funding not already provided will be reallocated by the Australian Government if agreement is not reached by Friday.”

The additional investment from the Australian Government of $93.5 million, which includes 25 houses for Nguiu, will support new ways of delivering Indigenous housing using a mainstream public housing model and home ownership in communities to be identified by both governments.

It builds on the $95 million the Australian Government invests each year for Indigenous housing in the NT and the $100 million commitment over five years announced by Chief Minister Clare Martin late last year.

The new funding will be used for a new approach to the delivery of housing in remote areas and will be a forerunner to the new Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation program due to commence in July 2008.

New and upgraded housing stock will either be transferred to Territory Housing or made available for home ownership.

The Northern Territory Government has undertaken to introduce effective asset management and tenancy systems as for the rest of public housing to help ensure longer life for houses and a healthier environment for tenants.

If land tenure arrangements allow for private home ownership local people, if they choose, will be able to apply for low interest loans and other assistance through Indigenous Business Australia.

First sites for the new approach include Nguiu in the Tiwi Islands and the Wadeye region. Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island has also been identified for ten new houses.

The new funding will create local employment and skills will be developed in communities for ongoing housing maintenance.

The Government aims to reduce the cost of construction in remote communities. Indigenous Business Australia will be involved and is working with private companies to develop suitable low cost housing options.