The Labor government’s plan to open up remote Aboriginal communities to individual home ownership is an important step toward improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.
The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) applauds government plans to enable residents to become homeowners in remote Indigenous communities through long-term lease arrangements and investment by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
“This would certainly play an important role in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people, increasing stability and control over their own lives, with housing available ‘on country’,” said the Alliance Chief Executive Susi Tegen.
“Closing the gap can only be successful when Indigenous communities are in control by being able to make decisions which suit them and their communities. This includes home ownership. Housing security builds generational wealth and a sense of achievement and pride.
“Home ownership is crucial to fostering a safe and prosperous community and improving social outcomes.
“The Alliance acknowledges the importance of land and significance of ownership to Indigenous communities. From an indigenous perspective, land is not owned by a few. Rather, it belongs to everybody. More accurately, we belong to it. Therefore, owning land is not only about financial gain but also about the spiritual connections people build with their surroundings. We’re pleased that the government has acknowledged this and taken steps towards facilitating home ownership for Indigenous communities,” Ms Tegen said.
Housing in remote First Nations communities is predominantly social housing and therefore, government-owned. There are limited opportunities for home ownership or other forms of housing.
Governments find it difficult to keep up with the demand for building and maintaining adequate housing in these communities. This results in long waiting lists for social housing, overcrowding, and poor-quality housing.
“We understand that Indigenous people in Australia face many health challenges and that those living in remote areas have higher rates of disease burden and lower life expectancy. We hope that the latest government plans to increase the possibility of home ownership will help ease the burdens on this population and improve circumstances to lead a healthy and fulfilling life,” Ms Tegen added.
Kathya de Silva, Media and Communications Officer, National Rural Health Alliance, 0470 487 608