Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Indigenous housing needs major overhaul, ABS survey

Federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said the ABS 2006 Community Housing Infrastructure and Needs Survey released today confirmed his view that Indigenous housing programs need a major overhaul.

“The survey adds weight to the findings of the independent review by Price Waterhouse Coopers that the Community Housing Infrastructure Program had failed to deliver,” Mr Brough said.

“The survey shows that the old ATSIC community based housing approach has not been delivering results. In fact it is going backwards,” Mr Brough said.

“Over the last 5 years despite spending around $1 billion on the old ATSIC housing program, housing stock increased by only 2% or 471 homes. There has been a marked deterioration in the state of that housing stock.

“After the effects of inflation are taken into account, the average weekly rent collected by Indigenous Community Housing Organisations (ICHOs) has fallen. It is only around $40 per week. Average rents paid are as low as $29 per week in South Australia and $28 in the Northern Territory,” Mr Brough said.

“The number of dwellings needing major repairs has increased from 19% to 23%. At the same time, ICHOs spent 8% less on maintenance per dwelling in 2006 than in 2001”.

“There were however some significant improvements to infrastructure with gains in access to town water, sewerage and electricity”.

“But there is no escaping the fact that the money channelled through ICHOs is not delivering the goods and we need a new approach. The number of ICHOs has fallen from over 616 to 496 and this is a step in the right direction.”

“The Government is considering options for reforms to Indigenous housing programs and we will be taking the results of the ABS Survey into account,” Mr Brough said.