Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Aboriginal Housing Boost

In its last Budget, the Howard Government announced the first real increase in Indigenous housing in ten years to help address serious housing issues in rural and remote areas.

Over a third of this additional spending, or $29 million, has been specifically allocated to the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program.

The extra funds will be provided specifically for use in the rural and remote areas of these states because that is where the need is greatest. We want to help provide long-lasting, high quality housing for Indigenous families.

In 2002-03, an extra $9 million will be distributed across Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory through the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program.

Poor housing has direct links to poor health in Indigenous communities and the Howard Government is determined to help resolve this problem.

In particular, we are keen to see an end to the ‘build and abandon’ approach to Indigenous housing and instead give the communities the skills they need to help themselves

The extra funding will be primarily used to upgrade existing houses to safe and healthy standards, provide training for community housing organisations to manage and maintain their houses.

State and territory governments have received $91 million a year from the Commonwealth over the last ten years as part of the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement for the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program. Today’s announcement of the distribution of increased funds will be a much needed boost.

We all know that there are long-standing problems with indigenous housing and this affects people’s health. That is why the Howard Government wants to work closely with states, territories and Indigenous communities to provide safe, healthy and sustainable housing for Indigenous people.